Canadian auto sales U-turned in May after two stronger months, falling 3.8 percent as high gasoline prices hit truck sales, while fuel-efficient cars remained popular according to Reuters.
Vehicle sales have been slowly recovering over the past year from a brutal slump during the recession, but the sector is not out of the woods yet, independent automotive analyst Dennis DesRosiers said.
“We’ve been saying for a long time that Canada is still a long way from full recovery in the auto sector. This (month’s data) is further evidence,” DesRosiers said.
Figures show Canadian auto sales fell to 149,000 units last month from 154,900 in the same month a year ago as gas prices hovered around the $1.30 ($1.32) per litre level. Before the recession, May sales were in excess of 180,000 vehicles.
Ford Motor of Canada remained No. 1 although its overall sales dipped 2.6 percent to 25,448 as truck sales slumped 10 percent.
Car sales, which make up less than half of Ford’s total vehicle sales in Canada, rose 21.2 percent to 7,534, boosted by purchases of its fuel-efficient Ford Focus.
Chrysler Canada stood out as a bright spot among the Detroit “Big Three” as it reported a 17 per cent jump in sales to 24,406, also boosted by sales of, fuel-efficient cars.
“Thanks to our Fiat alliance, we now have 14 vehicles with greater than 35 miles per gallon or less than 8 litres per 100 kilometres, that’s more than Toyota, Honda and Ford,” Reid Bigland, president and chief executive of Chrysler Canada.
Vehicle sales at General Motors Co of Canada fell 4.7 per cent in May, as its core truck brands slumped 9.5 per cent to 14,893. Sales of its less fuel-thirsty Chevrolet, Buick and Cadillac cars rose 5.4 percent to 8,104.
“Gas prices are top of mind for our customers, and we’ve seen continued momentum from fuel-efficient vehicles like the Canadian-built Chevrolet Equinox, GMC Terrain and Buick Regal,” said Marc Comeau, vice-president of sales, service and marketing at GM of Canada.
Sales of Honda and Acura vehicles fell 15 per cent to 9,831 in May as parts shortages after the Japanese earthquake and tsunami limited supplies of new vehicles.
Toyota Canada Inc. also experienced a weak month with sales plunging 33 percent to 12,030 on customer concerns about deliveries following the Japanese earthquake.