When General Motors Co. was in dire financial straits 10 years ago, few expected the automaker to bounce back to global dominance in a matter of years, but that's exactly what the iconic U.S. company has done.
In every corner of the globe, from North America to Europe, from South America to Asia, sales of GM cars and trucks are up.
The company made more than $7 billion in profits in three quarters last year, and the final figures for the year are expected to reach far higher. GM sold 640,000 more cars and trucks last year than it did the year before.
It has been a grueling road back for the U.S. automaker after its 2009 bankruptcy and taxpayer rescue. To date, GM has paid back nearly half of all taxpayer dollars.
"It's clearly a comeback story and one of the notable aspects of it is that they've been able to achieve this sales success not using the incentives that they might have used in years past," said Jeremy Anwyl, vice chairman of Edmunds.com, the auto-information publisher.
Without incentives, Anwyl added, they had to win with quality.
GM isn't the only U.S. automaker that's thriving. There are also brand-new signs of Ford's turnaround. Sales are up 11 percent in the past year and the company is planning to give raises to 20,000 white-collar employees, in addition to contributing more to their 401(k)s.
Under a recent four-year contract, union workers received signing bonuses and profit sharing.
It's a big change from when Ford was $30 billion in the red and forced to borrow $23 billion in private loans to get back on track. Ford has since repaid more than $21 billion of its loans.
Auto industry experts say that no matter how you slice this, it's good news. But the year ahead will be competitive, they caution, as Toyota is just now recovering from the Tsunami in Japan and is gearing up.
It is competition and momentum that is welcome by everyone in the U.S. auto industry, an industry that was on life support two years ago.