Toyota delivered 72.9% more vehicles in the U.S. in May than same month year-ago during its post-tsunami product shortage, leading the No.1 Japanese auto maker to report the biggest sales gain of any competitor last month, WardsAuto data shows.

Toyota’s 202,973 deliveries were adjusted for 26 selling days, compared with prior-year’s 24.

Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., which includes the Toyota, Lexus and Scion brands, sold 7,800 cars and trucks on a daily basis in May, says Bob Carter, Toyota Div. group vice president and general manager.

“That’s the fastest pace we have seen any time since the pre-recession days of August 2008,” discounting the U.S. government’s 2009 “Cash for Clunkers” incentive program, he tells media during a conference call.

Nearly all Toyota Motor Sales models posted increases in May, unlike year-ago. The biggest gains were made by Toyota- and Lexus-brand hybrids assembled in Japan, which were short on inventory last May.

Deliveries of the Lexus CT hatchback hybrid surged 214.9% from year-ago, while the LS hybrid spiked 453.9%. However, the Toyota Camry Hybrid saw the largest jump in sales of any model sold in the U.S. in May, up a whopping 586.5%.

Non-hybrids also saw strong year-on-year growth in the month including the Lexus GS 350, which is all-new for ’13, up 541.9%; Lexus LX 570 large SUV, up 151.6%; and the 10-month-old Camry, up 78.0%.

Models that suffered declines in May included the Scion tC, down 24.1%, while the Lexus LS and Toyota Avalon saw minor dips. Sales of the discontinued Lexus HS hybrid plunged 91.9%.

Carter is cautiously optimistic about Toyota’s future, and cautions about assumptions that the sales rise in May strictly was due to the recovery in inventory levels. Improving consumer confidence and new products also are bringing buyers into the showroom, he says.

Carter declines to provide an updated estimate for Toyota’s 2012 U.S. sales and market share, but promises the previous figures of 1.9 million units and 15% undoubtedly will rise. “I will tell you there is an alpha above that,” he says.

Most of Toyota’s robust sales over the last 90 days have come at the expense of other brands. The Tacoma compact pickup truck, Camry midsize sedan and Prius hybrid family are responsible for most of the conquests taking place, Carter says.

cschweinsberg@wardsauto.com