Toyota Motor global sales jumped 15.3% in January, despite the ongoing recall issues surrounding the brand. The data included the first increase in 16 months of export sales of the Toyota brand, despite a decrease in shipments to the Middle East and Africa.

The company said it sold 537,454 vehicles in January, excluding sales by truck subsidiary Hino and minicar specialist Daihatsu.

Of those, 121,043 were sold in Japan where Toyota volume soared 45.3%, the sixth month of increases. Lexus sales were up 201.8% to 3,833 units. Including Daihatsu and Hino, total sales in Japan rose 28.5%.

Toyota brand exports were up 43.5% to 130,928 units. Including Hino and Daihatsu, the total rose 43.3% to 138,810 units.

The company said it had seen its first increase in Daihatsu exports in 21 months, due to increased demand in Europe, despite a fall in shipments to Asia.

Worldwide production of Toyota vehicles leapt 55.8% to 643,925 units. Total company production, including Daihatsu and Hino, increased 46.5% to 716,570.

Despite the healthy January figures, analysts fear that damage to the Toyota brand, suffered as a consequence of the large scale recalls in the US, Europe and parts of Asia, could have an effect on February sales.

Earlier this month, it was reported that Toyota was planning to idle two plants in the US and was temporarily cuttihg its UK factory output while reviewing other European output because sales have slowed in the wake of the global recall crisis.

As reported today, US Toyota dealers and plant workers have headed to Washington DC to support the automaker’s senior executives as they attend three congressional hearings scheduled this week.

The first, hearing by a subcommittee of the House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce, began earlier on Tuesday (23 February) and Toyota Motor Sales USA president Jim Lentz and US transportation secretary Ray LaHood were both expected to testify.

Toyota president Akio Toyoda is scheduled to testify at the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on Wednesday with LaHood and Toyota Motor North America president Yoshimi Inaba also attending.