Defying widespread predictions of a leveling off if not a downturn in Canadian auto sales in 2017, March was the third month in a row to set a new sales record, with 187,540 new cars, trucks and SUVs sold, fully 7.1% more than in the same month last year.
It’s a feat made all the more remarkable in that sales in the United States have declined throughout the same period.
“Some good economic news, consumer confidence at its highest level since January 2010, and continued low borrowing rates have sustained the run of record monthly auto sales,” commented David Adams, president of the Global Automakers of Canada (GAC).
With 421,518 sales through the first quarter, it’s the best start to any year ever, 4.6% ahead of last year’s record-setting pace and 16.2% ahead of the five-year average for the period, according to Adams.
Dennis DesRosiers, of DesRosiers Automotive Consultants (DAD), labeled it “another stunningly successful month,” noting that the SAAR (Seasonally Adjusted Annualized sales Rate) for March was 2.02 million – well ahead of 2016’s record total just shy of 1.95 million.
“It remains to be seen whether this trajectory will continue throughout the first half and the remainder of the year,” said Adams, “ but it is a nice way to end the first quarter!”
GM tops the sales charts
The sales race at the top of the charts is the tightest its been in years, with the top three all within 3,000 vehicles of each other through the first quarter.
General Motors was the clear leader for March, with 30,115 units sold – an increase of 22.9% from the same month last year.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), the sales leader through the first two months, claimed second place for the March with 26,531 sales, up 2.6% from last year. But Ford, up 0.2%, was just 51 vehicles behind at 26,480.
With a sales gain of 18.7%, Honda edged past Toyota to claim fourth place for the month. Toyota’s 0.1% increase left the traditional Japanese-brand sales leader down 2.5% year-to-date, though it maintains fourth place for the year-to-date.
Nissan ( 26.7%) has now surpassed Hyundai (-14.7%) for sixth place, both for the month and the year-to-date. Mazda ( 14.8%), Kia ( 6.1%) and Mercedes-Benz ( 11.9%) completed the top ten for March, with Subaru ( 10.4%) fewer than 100 vehicles back in 11th. All four hold the same positions year-to-date.
Volkswagen (-22.4%), traditionally a solid member of the top ten, has fallen back to 12th in both measures.
The biggest gainers in March, in percentage terms, were Jaguar ( 227.2%) and Maserati ( 197.6%). On the flip-side, Smart (-83.7%) was the major loser.
Truck sales, including SUVs, were up 11.1% from March 2016, accounting for 68.7% of the market year-to-date, while passenger car sales fell by 0.3%.
Ford’s F-Series continued to be the best-selling truck and the best-selling vehicle overall, while the Honda Civic was the best-selling passenger car.
[NOTE: Data quoted in this report were sourced from DesRosiers Automotive Consultants, Global Automakers of Canada and individual automakers.]