New-vehicle sales in Canada have been on a slow decline for nine consecutive months but they took a big dive in November, falling 9.4% from the same month a year ago.
November’s sales of 143,668 new cars, trucks and SUVs were nearly 15,000 units short of last year and year-to-date sales of 1,870,703 vehicles are now off 2.3% from a year ago, which translates to about 44,000 units.
That shortfall virtually guarantees that 2018’s overall sales will fall short of 2017’s all-time record – the first year since 2009 not to achieve year-over-year growth, according to Dennis Desrosiers of DesRosiers Automotive Consultants (DAC).
Still, “2018 is close to 50,000 units ahead of 2016 and is on pace to be the second-highest market of all time; (so) the glass definitely remains half full,” said DesRosiers.
From the glass-half-empty perspective, however, November’s SAAR (Seasonally Adjusted Annualized Sales Rate), was only about 1.9-million, equalling its lowest level in the past two years, and more than a million short of 2017's 2-million-plus record
“Despite an increase in consumer confidence of over two points in November – according to TradingEconomics.com – that (increase) has not translated into higher vehicle sales,” observed David Adams, president of Global Automakers of Canada.
None of which bodes well for the immediate future.
Passenger-car sales continued their precipitous slide, down 11.4% in November, but unlike most earlier months in 2018,when truck and SUV sales partially offset those losses, they too were down by 8.7%.
As a result, light trucks’ dominant share of the market relaxed slightly to 70.7% through the first 11 months. That figure is still up 2.4% from a year ago, however, leaving just a 29.3% share for passenger cars – a hard fact with consequences here in Canada as GM announced the imminent closure of its Oshawa, Ontario plant.
Detroit Three in decline; Toyota gains
The Detroit Three all suffered sales declines in November, with Ford’s 10.7% drop the least of the three. That was enough to keep the Blue Oval at the top of the sales chart for both the month and the year, although cumulative sales to-date are down 3.1% from last year, lowering Ford’s market share by 0.1% to 15.1%.
General Motors fared second best on the month, with sales down 18.3% from last November. Year-to-date sales are down 3.0% and GM has given up 0.1% in market share, to 14.7%.
For the fifth consecutive month, Toyota surpassed FCA to claim third place, upsetting the market’s downward trend with sales up 11.5% from a year ago. Year-to-date, Toyota remains in fourth place with sales up 2.5% from last year and a market share increase of 0.4%, to 10.3%, the biggest gain in the industry.
While Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ (FCA’s) sales remain strong south of the border, they continue to decline in Canada. FCA again ranked fourth in November, with sales down 35.1% from a year ago. FCA remains solidly in third place year-to-date, however, in spite of sales that are down 14.6% from a year ago and a loss of 1.6% in market share to 11.4%.
Tight races behind the top four
Behind the top four, there are several tight races for positions among several automakers. Honda, in fact, was just a few-hundred units behind FCA in fifth-place for November, with sales down 10.2% from a year ago. Year-to-date sales through 11 months are down 1.7% but Honda’s market share is up by 0.1% to 8.9%.
Nissan once again squeezed past Hyundai to claim sixth place for the month, with sales up 1.3% from last November. The Japanese brand maintained sixth place for the year-to-date as well, with total sales up 1.9%, and a 0.2% gain in market share to 6.8%.
Hyundai remained close behind in November with a 10.0% sales increase from a year ago. The Korean brand remained in seventh-place for the year-to-date as well, with cumulative sales down by 1.2% and a 0.1% share decline 6.5%.
Volkswagen again claimed eighth place for the month, despite a 2.6% decline from a year ago. The German brand remained in 10th place for the year-to-date, however, based on poorer results earlier in the year. VW’s cumulative sales are up 2.8%, with a 0.2% increase in market share to 3.6%.
Kia claimed ninth place for the month, with a 17.3% sales decline. Year-to-date, the Korean brand remains ninth as well, with sales down by 4.7% and market share off by 0.1% to 3.7%.
Mazda fell to 10th-place for November, with 5,104 sales, a decline of 14.8%. Year-to-date, however, Mazda remains in eighth place with a 0.7% cumulative increase and a 0.1% share bump to 3.7%.
Subaru retained 11th place with a solid 4.8% sales increase for the month and 6.7% year-to-date, while Mercedes-Benz remained the luxury car leader in 12th place, in spite of a 15.9% monthly decline. Mercedes sales are off by 5.2% for the year-to-date.
Further down luxury-car ranks, BMW extended its second-place lead over Audi for both the month and the year-to-date.
Winners and losers
On a percentage basis, the biggest winners in March were %) Genesis (+155.8%), Porsche (+14.0%), Land Rover (+13.2%), Audi (+11.8%), Toyota (+11.5%), and Hyundai (+10.0%).
The biggest losers, in percentage terms, were Maserati (-57.9%), FCA (-35.1%), Smart (-28.6%), Acura (-22.4%), General Motors (-18.3%), Kia (-17.3%), Volvo (-17.2%),