Toyota’s recovery from last year’s production slowdown resulting from Japan’s earthquake and tsunami continues as its U.S. sales surge 40.2% on a daily-selling rate basis in August from year-ago to 188,520 units.

However, Bill Fay, Toyota Div. group vice president and general manager, largely credits the auto maker’s updated lineup.

“The driving force behind our growth continues to be strong consumer response to the new models we’ve launched over the past 12 months,” he tells media in a conference call today to discuss August results.

Fay says the Toyota brand retained its retail sales crown in August, with just 2.7% of total sales to fleets. Deliveries of Toyota- and Scion-brand models soared a combined 42.0%, while Lexus Div. sales grew 28.9%.

Prius hybrid sales more than doubled in the month, spiking 114.2% from prior-year to 21,111, with the original Prius liftback model accounting for 13,311 units. Toyota sold 3,428 Prius C’s, 3,325 Prius V’s and 1,047 Prius plug-ins.

Toyota delivered 36,720 Camrys in August for a 17.1% daily sales increase, and 24,311 Corollas, including 728 Matrix hatchbacks. Corolla results were up 41.1%, and the Matrix was up 118.4%, WardsAuto data shows.

Toyota’s light trucks also saw good results, led by the midsize RAV4 cross/utility vehicle with sales surging 132.3% to 15,685 units, followed by the large Land Cruiser SUV, up 127.5% on small volume.

Demand for Tacoma and Tundra pickups, pushed combined deliveries past the half-million mark for the year, to 511,740 units, a 20.0% increase from like-2011. Fay credits the boost to an improving housing industry, as well as a stronger U.S. auto industry.

Lexus’ 24,237 sales placed the brand in the top spot in the luxury segment in August, WardsAuto data shows, besting BMW/Mini and Mercedes-Benz.

Tim Morrison, Lexus vice president-sales, credits new and refreshed models, plus the brand’s annual “Golden Opportunity” sales event that ended Aug. 31 for the uptick.

Nearly all Lexus models, except for the aging IS and LS and low-volume CT hybrid hatchback and LFA supercar, posted increases in August.

The all-new GS sedan continued to invigorate the Lexus lineup in the month, up 354.4%, compared with year-ago, to 1,831 units. Some 54% of the 7,557 ES sedans sold last month were the new ’13 model, and 11% of those were the all-new 300h hybrid, Morrison says.

The new Scion FR-S provided a shot of adrenaline to that brand. Sales of the rear-wheel-drive sports car hit 1,913 units, making it Scion’s second best-seller following the tC. Fay says the FR-S was the industry’s fastest-turning model in August, selling almost as soon as it hit dealer lots.

Toyota is calling for an industry seasonally adjusted annual rate of 14.5 million units in August, matching February as the year’s best SAAR month.

This month, the auto maker adds the Camry to its lineup offering 0% financing, which includes the Corolla, Avalon, Tundra, Venza, RAV4, Highlander and Sienna.

Fay brushes off an onslaught of newer midsize competitors, saying the new models bring attention to Camry. “As everybody else in the segment stirs things up, that helps us…get shopped more often,” he says.

cschweinsberg@wardsauto.com