Toyota appears to be overcoming its recall concerns and quality issues, announcing that its global sales surged 21.3% percent year on year in April.

The Toyota group, which includes brands Daihatsu and Hino trucks, sold 671,921 vehicles in April, up from 554,034 a year earlier – although this was down on March sales of 876,126.

The company also reported that global production jumped 53.8% to 667,495 units compared to a year ago, when the industry was in the grip of the economic crisis.

The increase in sales and production comes despite having to recall around 10m vehicles worldwide since late last year over safety issues. Toyota has also paid a record US$16.4m fine to settle claims it hid defects blamed for more than 80 deaths in the United States. US officials are refusing to rule out the possibility of more fines.

It also faces a host of lawsuits over “unintended acceleration” issues that prompted the majority of the recalls and earlier this month said it would recall 11,500 Lexus vehicles worldwide because of a steering system defect.

Despite all this, Toyota posted a return to profit in the past fiscal year, including a net profit of JPY112.2bn (US$1.2bn) in the three months ended March,  defying many expectations.

Japan’s second-largest maker Honda reported its 10th straight monthly increase of domestic sales, which rose 9.5% – it did not give global sales figures – while Nissan saw global production rise 57% to 319,673, an all time record for April.

Mitsubishi Motors said its global production gained 72.7% from a year ago.

Output at Japan’s 12 vehicle makers in April rose 51% from a year earlier to 731,794 units according to the JAMA, the country’s automobile manufacturers’ association. Exports surged 90%.

However, 12 months ago Japanese carmakers scaled back output, temporarily halting production lines to reduce inventory amid the recession.