GOLETA, CA – Honda expects to sell almost 1.3 million units of its namesake brand in the U.S. this year, up from the 1.02 million it targeted in January.

"The general market is a little bit stronger than we anticipated, and the acceptance of our new products is really exceeding our expectations," Mike Accavitti, vice president-marketing for American Honda, tells WardsAuto in an interview at an Accord media event here.

However, he says Acura’s forecast of 180,000 deliveries for 2012 remains unchanged.

U.S. Honda-brand sales in the year’s first seven months surged18.5% to 732,165 units from 617,862 year-ago, WardsAuto data shows.

The solid gain can't be credited solely to recovery back from a disastrous 2011 that saw Japan’s earthquake and tsunami and Thailand’s historic floods devastate Honda's production capabilities, Accavitti tells journalists.

"Month by month, we are posting our best results since 2007 and 2008," he says, noting Honda's sales so far this year are on par with the start of the global recession in late 2008.

But the natural disasters did impair Honda's ability to fill its dealer pipeline until this spring. John Mendel, executive vice president-American Honda, told WardsAuto in April that the auto maker’s sluggish spring sales were the result of a lack of inventory, as well as the wrong trim levels on some vehicles.

Honda had just 60% of the inventory in February that it normally would carry at that time of year, Accavitti says here. Now with a normal days’ supply restored, the auto maker is seeing good results pretty much across the board.

The CR-V compact cross/utility vehicle and Civic compact sedan and coupe, both of which debuted new-generation models last year, are especially strong.

With 167,236 CR-Vs sold through July, up 33.9%, full-year 2012 results should "demolish" the record set in 2007 of 219,000, says Accavitti. "We've never done that kind of truck volume before."

And while it took a drubbing in the media for its frugal interior, the new Civic remains the No.1-selling compact car in the U.S. so far this year, with 192,175 deliveries, up 32.5%. Despite its success, Honda still plans to proceed with an update to the Civic's interior for the '13 model year.

Unfortunately for Honda, the sizzle seems to have gone out of its subcompact Fit sales, down 26.4% to just 28,898 through July. Although they never came close to the Fit’s popularity, deliveries of the CR-Z mild hybrid and Insight hybrid-electric car managed to plunge to 69.3% and 63.3%, respectively, in the period, selling a combined 7,194 units.

Accavitti blames the three models’ diminished sales on a lack of inventory. He is confident the Fit’s poor showing will be remedied when Honda begins building the car in North America at a new plant in Mexico starting in 2014.

cschweinsberg@wardsauto.com