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Canadian auto sales slip downward through first half of 2018

Five years of continuous year-over-year sales increases came to an end in June

Gerry Malloy
Published: July 18, 2018, 5:25 PM
Updated: July 23, 2018, 6:38 AM

Caution - sales trending down - 2018 Canadian auto sales

For the first time since March 2013, year-to-date new-vehicle sales in Canada fell below their year-ago levels in June, according to DesRosiers Automotive Consultants (DAC). That decline brought to an end a five-year-plus period of continuous year-over-year sales growth.

June’s sales of 200,156 new vehicles were down just 1.6% from a year ago, making it the second-best June tally ever but, combined with similar slight declines for the previous three months, cumulative sales of 1,036,677 cars, trucks and SUVs were 0.2% below last year’s record numbers at this time, ending five years of continuous growth.

It’s more of a leveling off than a sharp downturn. “The June results don’t rule out the possibility of another record year for auto sales in Canada,” says David Adams, president of the Global Automakers of Canada. But, he added, “there are some significant headwinds.”

Both DAC’s Dennis DesRosiers and Scotiabank’s Carlos Gomes, two of Canada’s most respected automotive analysts, predict annual sales just short of last year’s 2.04-million record – all, of course, depending on what happens with regard to trade policies, which are presently in flux.

Ford F-150 - Canada's best-selling vehicle

Tight race for sales lead

There’s a tight, ongoing race between Ford and General Motors for sales leadership, with the Blue Oval holding a slight advantage at the mid-year point. Ford sold 155,570 vehicles over the first six months, down 2.9% from last year. GM was just over 600 vehicles behind with 154,937 sales, a 3.0% increase from 2017.

FCA (formerly Chrysler) was well behind in third place with 134,811 sales, a decline of 11.1%.

In terms of market share, GM gained 0.4% to 14.9%, Ford fell by the same amount to 15.0%, and FCA’s share dropped by 1.6% to 13.0%. The Detroit three’s collective share fell by 1.5%, to 43.0%.

Best of the rest

Further down the rankings, Toyota maintained a lock on fourth place with sales of 104,559 vehicles up 2.4% from last year, boosting the brand’s market share by 0.3% to 10.1%.

Honda Civic Hatchback - Canada's best-selling car

In fifth-place, Honda’s 90,833 sales were up by 0.8%, improving market share by 0.1%, to 8.8%.

A sometimes-tight fight between Hyundai and Nissan for sixth place clearly favoured the Japanese brand at mid-year. Sales of 70,611 Nissan vehicles were up 2.6% from last year, driving market share up 0.2% to 6.8%.

Hyundai’s 61,280 sales, down 8.4%, relegated the Korean brand to seventh place, with a share decline of 0.5% to 5.9%.

Mazda sold 38,649 vehicles through the first six months, a 5.9% improvement, to secure eighth place in the rankings and bump market share 0.2% to 3.7%.

Kia, with 36,863 sales, ranked ninth at the mid-year point. Year-to-date sales were up by 0.4%, improving market share by a tenth to 3.6%.

Volkswagen maintained a steady sales advance over the first half, up 16.8% from a year ago, increasing market share by 0.5% to 3.2%.

Subaru has consolidated its position in 11th place, ahead of Mercedes-Benz, while further down the luxury rankings, Audi and BMW remain in a tight race, with Audi currently ahead by fewer than 300 units.

Winners and losers

On a percentage basis, the biggest winners through the first half were Genesis (+159.2%), Volvo (+42.6%), Mitsubishi (+17.7%), Volkswagen (+16.8%) and Land Rover (+14.7%).

Genesis G70 - Genesis had greatest percentage sales increase through first half of 2018.

The biggest losers, in percentage terms, were Maserati (-36.8%), FCA (-11.1%), and Hyundai (-8.4%).

As they have been for decades, the best-selling vehicle, and truck, in Canada continued to be the Ford F-Series and the best-selling car was the Honda Civic.