The Australian auto industry is shrugging off supply problems from this year’s earthquake in Japan and floods in Thailand to race toward full-year sales of 1 million units.

The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries says November deliveries rose 1.5% year-on-year to 88,654 units. It was the second-highest November on record, surpassed only by 92,801 in 2007.

Total sales for the year remain down 2.4% at 925,978 units.

FCAI CEO Ian Chalmers says while sales in 2011 will fall short of 2010 volume, it still will be a good overall result for the industry.

“For the past four months in a row, sales have been trending above the same period for 2010,” Chalmers says in a statement. “This suggests improving consumer confidence in Australia’s economic prospects.”

Many brands are appealing to buyers by offering better-equipped cars at lower prices, as well as low finance rates, he says.

“Consumers are responding positively to the value that is widely on offer,” Chalmers says. November results might have been better if not for supply constraints for some brands, he adds.

“The flood in Thailand, which continues to affect some car factories located there, and the lingering after-effects of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami have played a part in limiting supplies of some popular models,” Chalmers points out.

Toyota maintained its market dominance, selling 17,436 vehicles in November, putting it well ahead of GM Holden (9,761) and Ford (8,103).

Toyota’s Corolla was Australia’s best-selling vehicle for the month with 3,731 units, followed by the Mazda3 (3,480) and Toyota HiLux (3,332).

Industry new-car sales fell 5.5% for the month to 46,712 units, leaving the 11-month total down 5.1% at 513,550. SUV sales of 24,182 units were up 16.2% in November, putting year-to-date sales up 2.3% at 216,730.

Light-commercials rose 3.4% for the month to 15,163 units, with the segment little changed year-to-date on last year at 165,271.

Market growth in November was driven by the continued rise in the popularity of SUVs, with SUV Compact sales up 12.6% at 11,441 units and SUV Medium sales ahead 16.8% at 8,510.

SUV Large volumes rose 5.4% to 1,144 units and SUV Luxury sales soared 36.1% to 3,087.

Other segments enjoying growth in November were Small Cars (up 1.4% to 20,229 units) and Medium Cars (up 2.3% to 6,580)

“Assuming the current trends carry through December, we are confident that total annual sales will exceed 1 million for only the fourth time in Australia’s history,” Chalmers says.

For Toyota, it was the fourth time the Corolla has topped monthly sales charts this year. That has helped the auto maker take an overall sales lead of more than 50,000 units in 2011, despite the Asian natural disasters.

“Toyota's market-leading results have demonstrated the company's resilience globally in overcoming obstacles such as the Japan earthquake and tsunami and the Thailand floods,” Toyota Australia Sales and Marketing Senior Executive Director David Buttner says in a statement.

Toyota's November results included nine vehicles that were leaders in their respective segments – the Corolla, Yaris, Camry, RAV4, LandCruiser 200, HiLux 4x2, HiLux 4x4, HiAce bus and HiAce van.

GM Holden says supply issues continued to impact its sales in November, with the auto maker experiencing a challenging month in an increasingly segmented marketplace.

Supply constraints for domestic and imported car lines impacted availability of key GM Holden models, including the Commodore and Cruze ranges, which were Australia’s fourth and fifth top-selling models, respectively.

Commodore sales of 2,808 units in November took its 11-month tally to 37,803 for 55.7% of the large-car segment. The Cruze was the third highest-selling small car for the month with 2,393 units.

GM Holden’s new-generation Barina made its market debut in November, boosting Barina sales to 1,283 units – the marque’s best result since February 2008.

Mazda Australia moved closer to its best year ever with a record 8,031 deliveries in November, beating the previous high for the month set in 2009 by 1,437 units.

Mazda’s 11-month total is 3,197 units ahead of the same period last year with the company recording year-to-date increases for the Mazda2, Mazda3 and BT-50.

Hyundai Australia’s November sales rose 20.8% to a record 7,514 units.

It was first in volume in the light-car segment with a combined market share of 17.4% for the i20 and Accent models. It also placed third in the small-car and medium-car segments.