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Auto industry back in fast lane

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, whose brands include Jeep and Dodge, saw U.S. sales rise 7 percent last year, giving the automaker its best year in a decade, the company said. The other automakers in Detroit's "Big Three," Ford and General Motors, saw sales soar 5 percent. Foto: AP/ David Zalubowski

Drivers in the United States bought more cars last year than ever before, a staggering turnaround for an auto industry fighting for its life half a decade ago, as low gas prices and a strengthening economy marked a banner year for American roads.

About 17.5 million cars and trucks were sold last year, automakers said Tuesday, overtaking the 17.3 million sales in 2000 and far outpacing the 10.4 million sales in 2009, when taxpayers paid billions to bail out the bedrock of America's automotive might...

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