In spite of record cold weather in much of the country, auto sales in Canada maintained a torrid pace in February. Sales of 109,248 new vehicles during the month were up 3.4% from year-ago levels – the same percentage increase achieved in January.
It's the second best February result in history, not far behind the 2008 record of 110,951 units, and 6.7% above the five-year average for the month. It's also the 11th straight month of year-over-year sales increases.
As it did in January, FCA Canada (formerly Chrysler Canada) was the best-selling automaker, with a 1.0% sales gain over last year, extending its lead over Ford which saw sales drop 7.4% in February.
General Motors maintained third place with a sales increase of 6.4%, the greatest improvement among the Detroit three, and Toyota closed on them all in fourth with a 19.1% improvement.
For the second month in a row, Hyundai ( 2.7%) bumped Honda (-8.0%) out of fifth place and Nissan ( 20%) knocked it down another spot to seventh. Volkswagen also had a big month with sales up by 26.2%.
"Despite knowing that fuel prices will eventually go back up, consumers are continuing to embrace trucks when purchasing new vehicles,” noted David Adams, president of the Global Automakers of Canada.
Sales of light trucks, which include utility vehicles, were up by 5.1%, compared to just 0.2% for passenger cars. Trucks now account for a record 63.3% of the Canadian market.
With record sales for the month, the Ford F-series continued to be the best- selling vehicle overall, while the Honda Civic regained its position as the best-selling passenger car in February. It still trails January's sales leader, the Hyundai Elantra, on year-to-date sales.
On a less positive note, February was the fourth consecutive month of decline in the seasonally adjusted annual sales rate (SAAR). Still, at 1.76-million it remains in healthy if not record territory – and spring is less than a month away.