Sales of 171,807 new vhicles in Canada during April were up by 8.9% from the same month last year, reversing a four-month decline in year-over-year sales. It was the best April sales result since 2008, 9.2% ahead of the five-year average for the month.
That surge was sufficient to bump year-to-date auto sales into positive territory as well, up 1.4% from 2012. Year-to-date sales of 527,019 vehicles were also the best for the period since 2008.
Auto sales were on a steady increase through most of 2012, but turned down sharply in December and continued to lag the previous year's figures through the first quarter of 2013.
The Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate (SAAR) for April was 1.74 million units, the first time this year it has exceeded 1.7 million. Total sales for 2012 were 1.68 million, making it the second-best year ever.
"Given flagging consumer confidence levels that dropped almost five points last month, these sales results are very encouraging", commented David Adams, president of the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers of Canada AIAMC).
Ford back on top
While Chrysler was the top-selling automaker early in the year, Ford was back on top for April (with sales up 15.5% from last year), as well as for the year-to-date ( 7.8%).
General Motors had a strong month ( 18.9%), falling just short of toppling Chrysler ( 5.0%) from second place. Industry analyst Dennis DesRosiers observed that this was GM's highest sales tally since June 2011 and its strongest year-over-year percentage gain since March of the same year.
Year-to date rankings parallel those for the month with Chrysler and GM trailing Ford in that order.
Toyota ( 6.8%), Hyundai (-5.5%), Honda ( 17.3%), Kia (-5.4%), Nissan ( 17.6%) and Mazda (-5.2%) and Volkswagen ( 11.2%) complete the top ten for the month.
Year-to-date, the only difference in that order is that Kia trails Nissan and Mazda.
DesRosiers notes that both Korean brands have now lost roughly half a point of market share apiece on a year-to-date basis, bleeding some of the gains won from Japanese manufacturers over the last five years.
Subaru, in 11th place, had a particularly strong month, the brand's best ever, with sales up by 29.4%, and year-to-date sales are ahead by 11.4%.
Trucks gain momentum
Detroit Three sales were up by 12.8% in April, while import brands gained just 5.8%, with strong truck sales tilting the balance in favour of the North Americans.
Truck sales, including CUVs and SUVs, were ahead by 6.3% while car sales advanced by just 1%.
Year-to-date, truck sales account for 56.2% of the market, a share increase of 1.9% from 2012, with cars' share declining by that percentage to just 43.8%.