World vehicle sales climbed 5.4% in April, compared with like-2012, aided by strong demand across the Western Hemisphere and the first year-on-year gain in Europe since November 2011.

Global auto makers delivered 7.14 million units in the month, compared with 6.77 million year-ago, according to WardsAuto data, as all markets showed improvement.

North America posted the largest increase, with 128,000 additional deliveries pushing results up 8.9% from year-ago to 1.57 million units, giving it a 22% share of global auto sales. April was the 23rd consecutive month that the region outpaced prior-year.

Gains in the three North American markets were in proportion to the overall volume sales. The U.S. registered the smallest percentage rise, up 8.3% to 1.3 million units. Canada was up 8.7% to 175,000 and Mexico surged 20% over year-ago.

South America led all regions in year-on-year growth, up 29.2% to 535,000 units. The increase, which nearly equaled the volume gains in North America, was spurred by strong sales in the region’s largest markets.

After a mixed first quarter, Brazil’s auto makers delivered 334,000 vehicles in April, a 29.6% improvement over prior-year. Brazil was the world’s fourth-largest vehicle market in the month after finishing in the No.6 spot in March.

Collectively, South America markets accounted for 7.5% of world sales in April, the region’s largest monthly share since December.

The Asia-Pacific market grew 1.6% to 3.1 million units in the month, accounting for 43.1% of world vehicle sales. China, alone, accounted for 25.8%, up just 0.2% to 1.84 million.

Japan sales inched up 1.5%, to 365,000 units, while a 2% bump in South Korea’s results returned that market to the No.4 position in the region, ahead of Thailand. However, Thailand, up 25.1% to nearly 110,000, and Indonesia, up 17.1%, contributed the bulk of the volume increase.

Europe sales were only slightly better than year-ago, rising 0.6% to 1.64 million units, but the small gain was a positive sign for a beleaguered market that had posted year-over-year declines for the past 16 months.

However, the improvement lagged other regions, lowering Europe’s share of world sales to 22.9%, compared with 24% year-ago.

Germany, the region’s largest market, saw vehicle deliveries climb 3.8% to 311,000 units in April, while the U.K., where the economy has been somewhat buffered from the European credit crisis, jumped 16.5%. Those gains largely were offset by declines in Russia, France and Italy, the second-, third- and fourth-largest markets, respectively.

April’s results brought year-to-date worldwide vehicle sales to 28.2 million units, up 3.7% from like-2012.

jsousanis@wardsauto.com