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Local new-vehicle sales increased 7.8 percent in November from a year ago and are on track to finish the year ahead of 2011’s total.

The Niagara Frontier Automobile Dealers Association reported that 3,979 new units were sold in November, compared with 3,689 a year earlier. The figures exclude Chevrolet, which does not publicly disclose its local monthly totals.

Through the first 11 months of the year, area dealers sold 48,240 new units, up 3.5 percent from the same 11-month period last year.

Among brands disclosing their sales, the top seller in November was Ford, with 916. Its total was down 6 percent from a year ago. Ford was followed by Toyota, Honda and Nissan.

Frank Downing Jr. of Towne Automotive Group said his dealer group’s sales were up about the same as the region’s during the month. Towne’s increases were driven by strong new car leases and year-end pushes by automakers for leadership in certain segments, such as BMW in the premium segment and Ford in trucks, he said.

BMW’s local sales were up 14 percent from a year ago; the automaker’s U.S. sales rose by the same percentage.

Downing said December is also looking strong, with sales so far up about 8 percent from a year ago.

Craig Schreiber, co-owner of Northtown Automotive Cos., said brands such as Hyundai and Subaru recorded strong gains, thanks to new products in their respective lineups.

“Hyundai has finally got some inventory,” Schreiber said. “They’ve had new product, but we haven’t had it in great abundance [before].”

The region’s sales total for November was the second lowest this year, after January’s. November’s total was among the lowest for sales in each of the previous three years, as well.

Across brands, U.S. auto sales rose 15 percent in November, according to Automotive News. Experts said the numbers were bolstered by deals that had been delayed from October when Hurricane Sandy struck the East Coast.

American Honda and Nissan North America both reported their best-ever November sales figures.

email: mglynn@buffnews.com