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Canadian auto sales on a six-month slide

Six months of slipping sales dash earlier hopes of another record year

Gerry Malloy
Published: September 7, 2018, 2:55 PM
Updated: September 13, 2018, 5:32 AM

Canadian Auto sales on a six-month slide - Canadian Auto sales have been on a slow but consistent decline for the past six months.

For the first two months of 2018, auto sales in Canada maintained 2017’s record pace, raising hopes of a third consecutive record sales year. But then things changed. For the past six months, new-vehicle sales have been on a slow but slide.

August’s results – a 1.6% drop in sales from the same month last year – effectively dashed any lingering hopes of a substantive turnaround. They mark the sixth consecutive month of sales declines, leaving year-to-date sales down 0.8% – a deficit of almost 12,000 units..

Fewer buyers taking the keys - Fewer people are buying new cars in Canada in 2018 than they were in 2017.

David Adams, president of the Global Automakers of Canada (GAC), attributed the extended period of gradual decline to “higher interest rates and the fact that we are at the beginning of the end of a very good, protracted cycle of sales growth.”

The situation is far from doom and gloom, however. August’s tally of 180,942 vehicles sold is the second-highest ever for the month and its SAAR (Seasonally Adjusted Annualized Sales Rate) was right on 2.0-million, according to DesRosiers Automotive Consultants (DAC).

Year-to-date sales of 1,392,936 units through the first eight months are second only to last year for the same period. Plus, they’re about 4.4% ahead of 2016’s figures, which are currently second-best.

So, while the trend-line is slightly downward, it is far from being a bad year. And chances are good that it will be the second-best ever.

Trucks are still king

There was virtually no change in the now-normal car-truck split.  Light truck sales, including those of SUVs, were up by 2.6%, claiming 70.2% of the market, while passenger-car sales fell by 10.6%, to a 29.8% market share. That’s a 2.7% shift in market share from cars to trucks from a year ago.

Trucks are still king - Light truck sales, including those of SUVs, were up by 2.6%, claiming 70.2% of the market in August

While overall sales were down, there were more gainers than losers, in terms of brands, however – including a few with impressive increases.

On a percentage basis, the biggest winners in March were Genesis (+136.4%), Volvo (+44.6%), Mitsubishi (+17.8%) and Acura {+13.1%).

The biggest losers, in percentage terms, were Maserati (-33.3%), Volkswagen (-22.2%), Mercedes-Benz (-20.5%) and General Motors (-10.1%).

Ford is #1

Ford once again topped the sales charts, with an increase of 7.1% from a year ago and 15.3% market share, year-to-date..

Ford #1 - Ford is the best-selling automaker for August and the year-to-date.

In second-place, General Motors’ sales were down 10.1% from a very big month a year ago, but year-to-date GM has gained 0.2% in market share, to 14.8%.

For the second consecutive month, Toyota ranked third, with sales up 2.4%, although it remains fourth for the year so far, with 10.0% market share.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), followed up a dramatic sales decline in July with a 9.6% drop in August, putting it behind Toyota for the month and dropping year-to-date market share to 12.1%.

Honda was back to its usual fifth-place ranking in August, with sales up 0.3% from the same month last year and a cumulative 8.9%. market share.

Some tight races mid-field

Further down the rankings, Hyundai maintained sixth place for the month, ahead of Nissan although poorer results for the Korean brand early in the year reverses that position for the year-to-date.

2019 Hyundai Veloster Turbo - Hyundai maintained sixth place in sales for the month of August

For the third month in a row, Kia ranked eighth in sales August, almost, but not quite, overtaking Mazda for eighth in cumulative sales.

Mazda ranked ninth for the month, while hanging on to eighth place for the year-to-date.

For the second consecutive month, Volkswagen’s sales declined in August, relegating it to 10th place for both the month and the year.

Subaru now stands clearly in 11th place, well ahead of Mercedes-Benz for both the month and the year-to-date.

BMW 530e - BMW edged past Audi to regain second place in sales among luxury brands in August.

The battle further down the luxury rankings fell to BMW this month, slightly ahead of Audi, also reversing their positions in BMW’s favour for the year-to-date – albeit fewer than 100 units apart.