People who did buy cars last month were clearly shopping for value, and Hyundai/Kia rode its rep to sales increases in a month of market contraction. Hyundai was the biggest winner in the US market last month, with overall sales rising 14 percent, to a sales total of 24,512 units. Hyundai’s press release highlights strengths in the firm’s eastern sales district (reportedly up 20 percent over January 2008), and positive reactions to its Assurance program. On the product front, Sonata sales lead the way, up 85 percent in a month when Accord/Camry/Malibu competitors dropped 30 percent or more. And with BMW selling only 23 7-series in January, Hyundai’s Genesis was a recession-level hit with 1,056 sales. Santa Fe was up 35 percent, and at 5,024 units sold it was Hyundai’s second best-selling nameplate. Kia sales were up 3.5 percent, with Rio (+60 percent), Optima (+75 percent) and Rondo (+90 percent) making up for decreases elsewhere.