LOS ANGELES -- American Honda's U.S. sales rose 26 percent in December from last year, when inventories were crimped by the Thai floods that ravaged Honda's supply network.
The strong December results helped American Honda's full-year 2012 sales rise 24 percent to 1.42 million vehicles from 2011, when deliveries were hurt by the Japanese earthquake and tsunami.
Honda Division's December sales jumped 27 percent, just 500 units shy of its best December ever.
From a market share perspective, the Honda brand is back on track. Its 2012 share of 8.7 percent is its best since 2008, when it held a 9.7-percent share of U.S. light-vehicle sales. In 2011, the Honda brand's share fell to 8 percent.
American Honda's U.S. share also rebounded in 2012 to 9.8 percent from 9 percent in 2011, when it was battered by the Japan earthquake and tsunami. But it's share remains below a recent peak of 11 percent in 2009.
Honda sales were led by the Civic compact, which set a December sales record of 33,118 units, a gain of 61 percent, as the company offered generous deals on the outgoing 2012 model.
Although the 2013 Civic, which received a midcycle freshening, began arriving in dealerships last month, about 85 percent of December Civic sales were of the 2012 model.
Sales of the redesigned 2012 Accord also remained strong, climbing 66 percent to nearly 30,000 units. The CR-V won the compact crossover sales title, finishing with 281,652 units sold in 2012, and setting its 10th monthly sales record in December.
The Ford Escape finished second among compact crossovers with 2012 sales of 261,008 units.
However, sales of Honda models imported from Japan continued to plummet, with the Fit, Insight and CR-Z all posting significant drops in December.
Honda executives have said those vehicles are in higher demand -- and deliver better profit margins -- when sold in Japan. Demand for the Alabama-made Odyssey minivan -- a core model for the brand -- also dropped 21 percent last month, but finished 18 percent higher for the year.
"Honda began the year intent on recovery," John Mendel, American Honda executive vice president, said in a statement. "We ended 2012 with multiple product awards, a host of sales records, Honda's second-best December ever, and tremendous momentum as we head into 2013."
For Acura, December sales rose 22 percent, with 2012's full-year sales of 156,216, a 27 percent increase marking the brand's best year since 2007.
The redesigned RDX crossover hit its eighth straight monthly sales record, up 155 percent in December. The aging MDX -- set for a mid-2013 redesign -- continues to be the volume leader, with sales up 11 percent in December. After a slow start, the all-new ILX compact sedan became the brand's top-selling sedan in December.