Recovery from superstorm Sandy and an increasingly spry economy helped Honda set a record for November sales, part of a strong month for U.S. new-car sales.
Honda sold 116,580 vehicles, up 39 percent from the same month last year. The automaker, which produces the Honda and Acura brands, rode the momentum of sales of the recently redesigned Accord. The Marysville-made sedan sold 26,248 units, up 82 percent from last year.
U.S. sales were up 15 percent for the industry as a whole. "Honda, right now, is just having a lot of momentum," said Jessica Caldwell, senior analyst for Edmunds.com, a website for car buyers. " A lot of things have come together for them this month."
One of those thingsa is recovery from Sandy. The storm flooded tens of thousands of cars on the East Coast, leading to a spike in replacement sales. Other automakers similarly benefited.
But Honda's success during the month went far beyond any weather factors.
"We are now surpassing sales records set pre-recession, a true sign that our business has recovered," John Mendel, American Honda executive vice president of sales, said in a statement.
The compact Civic was Honda's, top seller, with 30,075 vehicles sold, up 75 percent from a year ago and on the cusp of an updated design that went on sale this week.
The redesigned Accord went on sale in September and has received strong reviews and had brisk sales.
Last among Honda's top three was the CR-V crossover, made in East Liberty, which sold 22,333, up 36 percent.
The Honda brand was up
41 percent. Acura, Honda's luxury brand, was up 24 percent. Together, the two brands were up 39 percent.
Honda had the highest percentage gain of any major automaker.
Another top performer was Nissan, which set its own record for the month, with 96,197 units, up
13 percent from the same month last year.
Volkswagen sold 36,728 vehicles, an increase of 29 percent, giving it its best November since 1973.
"This is a testament to the appeal of our affordable German-engineered vehicles and the strength of our dealer network," Jonathan Browning, president and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, said in a statement.
Almost every automaker can point to a brand or model that did well in a month that was strong for nearly the whole industry.
The closest thing to an exception might be General Motors, which sold 186,505 vehicles -- the largest number of any carmaker -- but whose sales gains represented only a 3 percent increase. Executives at GM "don't have as many positive stories to tell" about these results, Caldwell said.Ford sold 173,520 units, up 6 percent; Toyota sold 161,695, up 17 percent; and Chrysler sold 121,886, up14 percent.Honda was fifth in unit sales.
Luxury cars surged as usual near the year's end, as holiday commercials started crowding the airwaves. Porsche sales rose 71 percent to 3,865, a record month for the automaker. Infiniti, Acura, BMW and Lexus all reported big gains, too.Caldwell said luxury brands historically have gone after their customers at this time of year because of holiday bonuses.
That's no longer a driving factor, she said, but it's still a good time of year for people to buy 2012 model-year luxury vehicles because dealers are trying to clear them out.
Information from the Associated Press was included in this story.
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