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Hot new-car sales match August's hot weather

New-vehicle sales in Canada continue at a near-record pace through first eight months

Published: September 5, 2012, 10:30 AM

2012, Honda, Civic, Si, Civic Si, HFP - Right front view

August new-vehicle sales were up again in Canada,

6.4% above those for the same month last year and 4.7% ahead of the five-year average for August.

It's the seventh month out of eight this year that sales have outpaced those of a year ago.

According to industry analyst, Dennis DesRosiers of DesRosiers Automotive Consultants, August's SAAR (Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate) of 1.66-million is right in line with that of the year so far and it bodes well for a near-record annual total by year's-end, if that momentum is maintained.

A sales record of 1.72 million new vehicles was set in 2002, but it hasn't been seriously challenged since then.

As has been the case for several months, a combination of hot new product, more and better incentives, stable interest rates and keen price competition is keeping customers in a buying mode.

It's a buyer's market if ever there was one.

Imports up, Detroit Three down

Once again, import brands showed the strongest gains, with several setting all-time sales records for the month.

Collectively their sales were up by 16.5% in August, compared to a drop of 3.9% for the D3. Year to-date, import brands account for 54.7 percent of the market – up three-tenths from July and a 3.0-percent gain from this a year ago.

Honda (+49.9%) was the biggest gainer of the mainstream players as it recovers from the supply constraints initiated by last year's disasters in Japan. With an all-new Accord about to be launched, its future prospects are even more promising.

Other brands with big sales increases included: Land Rover (+44.6%), Subaru (+43.9%), Porsche (+43.4%), Volkswagen (+34.4%), Kia (+32.4%), Mini (+26.9%) and Toyota (+25.9%).

Among the Detroit Three, Chrysler's sales were up again

(+9.2%) but Ford's fell slightly (-1.8%) and General Motors' continued their deep dive. Collectively their year-to-date market share is down by to 43.5% – a 3.0-percent decline from a year ago, mostly at the hands of GM.

Some shuffling down in the sales ranks

Ford remained the clear sales leader in August and year-to-date, followed by Chrysler, GM and Toyota in that order. Honda outsold Hyundai to reclaim fifth place for the month, however, although Hyundai retains that position year-to-date.

Kia also moved up a notch to seventh place, passing Nissan by a big-enough margin for the month to take over that position for the year-to-date.

Among luxury brands, BMW outsold Mercedes-Benz in August but Mercedes maintains the lead year-to-date.

Passenger car sales (+8.7%) posted a greater rate of increase than those for trucks (+4.6%) in August, as had been the case earlier in the year. Year-to date, car sales are ahead by 8.8 percent compared to a 4.9-percent gain for trucks.

But trucks still account for 54.4 percent of the market to 45.6 percent for cars, a 0.9-percent share loss for trucks from a year ago.