Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE:TM) has hiked its estimate for total U.S. sales for a second time this year as the Japanese auto maker sees the U.S. auto market recovering faster than it had expected way back in December.

The world’s top automaker entered 2013 expecting total annual U.S. car and light truck sales to come in at about 14.7 million, a lackluster increase from 14.5 million last year.  Toyota’s estimate at the time was bearish; General Motors Co. (NYSE:GM) and auto industry analysts have been predicting at least 15 million in sales for the year all along.

But now Toyota is more in line with current industry estimates that U.S. consumers will buy about 15.5 million cars this year, which is up from Toyota’s first 2013 U.S. sales revision in April to 15.3 million.

This is what Bob Carter, senior vice president of automotive operations for Torrance, Calif.-based Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc., told Automotive News in a phone interview published on Monday, explaining why the automaker has jacked up its estimates so steeply. What it boils down to is this: Toyota didn’t expect the U.S. auto sector to recover as quickly as it did.

"The market is starting to recover in the same pattern we projected … It just started about six months before we thought. I think the market's there and we're seeing the traffic."

Toyota had initially expected to sell a little more than 2 million of its own vehicles in the U.S. this year, including Lexus and Scion sales. In April the company increased that to over 2.2 million. Now, with four more months to go before the end of the year, the company sees selling 2.25 million units.

The company released a newly overhauled version of its Tundra full-sized pickup truck, which hit dealer showrooms this month. The new Corolla -- the world’s first or second-most popular sedan depending on whom you believe -- will go on sale next month.