Chrysler continued its year-long surge, and Toyota had something to crow about for the first time since spring.
Those factors combined to help U.S. light vehicle sales jump 14 percent in November and produce the strongest selling rate of the year.
"I've been waiting to say this for seven months," Toyota brand General Manager Bob Carter said in a conference call. "For the first time since the earthquake and tsunami in Japan disrupted worldwide automotive production, Toyota sales were up last month."
Among the highlights:
- U.S. consumers shook off concerns about European debt and a stalemated Congress to boost auto sales. The 14 percent increase was the biggest since an 18 percent advance in April, before the full toll of the March quake was felt
- On a volume basis, unit sales failed to top the 1 million mark for the fourth straight November. But they were close, at 994,786.
- The seasonally adjusted annual selling rate of 13.6 million was the highest since the cash-for-clunkers government stimulus program in August 2009. This year's previous high: a pre-quake 13.3 million in February.
- Chrysler Group's 47 percent increase marked its 15th straight double-digit gain. The company is now up 25 percent for the year.
- Since soaring 42 percent in February, Toyota Motor Sales had posted seven monthly sales declines and one increase -- a 1 percent rise in April. Last month's 7 percent gain was split equally between the Toyota division and Lexus.
- Two companies still haven't been able to shake the effects of the quake. American Honda was down 6 percent in November, and Subaru fell 15 percent. Each extended their monthly losing streaks to seven.
- Subaru was the only company that recorded a sales gain in 2009, when the industry collapsed 21 percent. This year it's on track to post a decline -- 2 percent through November in an industry that's up 10 percent.
- Aside from Honda, all major automakers posted bigger gains in November than in October. In addition to Chrysler Group's 47 percent, Hyundai-Kia Automotive jumped 29 percent, Nissan North America rose 19 percent and Ford Motor Co. grew 13 percent. General Motors matched Toyota with a 7 percent increase.
- German companies led the smaller automakers. Daimler AG jumped 47 percent; Volkswagen Group gained 29 percent; and BMW Group rose 15 percent. Volvo was up 19 percent, Jaguar Land Rover rose 17 percent, and Mazda advanced 20 percent.
- In addition to Honda and Subaru, four other automakers lost volume in November: Suzuki, down 22 percent; Mitsubishi, down 13 percent; Saab, down 10 percent; and Porsche, down 7 percent.
- Looking ahead: November's growth shows underlying conditions continue to improve, said Jesse Toprak, vice president of TrueCar.com.
"This sets the market up for a strong finish to the year and a good start to 2012," he said. He repeated his forecast of 13.8 million sales next year. That would be the highest since 2007, before the industry's collapse.