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Canadian auto sales wither in summer heat

Ford took control of the sales race in July, claiming the year-to-date lead as well

Published: August 12, 2016, 5:40 AM
Updated: April 29, 2018, 12:50 PM

New Car Lot - shimmering

While July set temperature records all across Canada, auto sales shrunk from their long-running record pace, falling below last year’s levels for the second time in the past three months.

Sale of 173,303 new cars, trucks and utilities in July were down 2.6% from the same period last year, although they remain 7.8% ahead of the five-year historical average for the month, according to David Adams, president of the Global Automakers of Canada.

With that decline, year-to-date sales are now just 4.6% ahead of last year, although that’s a margin of more than 50,000 vehicles, which still bodes well for another annual record. Dennis DesRosiers of DesRosiers Automotive Consultants (DAC) noted that the market would have to underperform by an average of 10,000 units a month for the rest of the year to fail to set another record, which seems an unlikely scenario.

In addition, while actual sales dropped, the seasonally adjusted annualized sales rate (SAAR) for the month remained above 1.9-million units according to DAC. Last year’s record was just under 1.9-million.

There is some concern that the long-predicted leveling-off in demand may have begun, however. U.S. sales declined in July as well, reinforcing that concern. But it also could be that this summer is just too hot for many customers to go car shopping. It will probably take a couple more months to determine if that’s the case – or if peak sales have been reached.

Maintaining the recent norm, passenger car sales were down 11.3% from last July, while sales of trucks and utility vehicle were up 2.7%. Year to date, trucks and utilities claim 65.1% of the market compared to just 34.9% for cars.

Ford in front

2017 Ford Escape

Ford took firm control of the sales race in July, claiming first place with sales of 29,771 vehicles, up by 9.5% from last year. Year-to-date, Ford’s sales are now up 11.4%, surpassing Fiat Chrysler Auto for the first time this year, with an advantage of more than 2500 units – and a market share increase of a full 1.0%.

FCA was second for the month with sales down by 13.8% from year-ago, leaving year-to-date sales up just 0.2%. FCA recently adopted a new sales reporting methodology that has affected previous sales figures in both the U.S. and Canada. The data presented here is based on that new methodology but comparisons are made against historic sales calculated by the old methodology. FCA advises that there may be subsequent adjustments in comparative figures when more details are released. They’re expected in September..

General Motors’ sales also fell in July, by 6.9%, resulting in  year-to-date sales up just 0.9%. Toyota (-0.6%) and Honda (-3.1%) both experienced slight declines in fourth- and fifth-place respectively. Hyundai ( 1.4%), Nissan ( 8.9%), Kia ( 14.5%), Mazda (-15.6%) and Volkswagen (-14.2%) completed the top ten in that order.

As was the case in June, the biggest gainer in percentage terms was Jaguar, up 213.8% as availability of the new F-Pace SUV and XE sedan increases. Other brands with big increases in July included Volvo ( 33.5%) Land Rover ( 16.5%), Audi ( 14.7%), Kia ( 14.5%) Mercedes-Benz ( 12.4%) and Mini ( 11.3%).

[NOTE: Data quoted in this report were sourced from DesRosiers Automotive Consultants, Global Automakers of Canada and individual automakers.]