DesRosiers has released its Canadian sales report for March 2016:
Never in the history of the automotive sector have Canadians bought more than 200,000 light vehicles in a month.
That record was broken in April with sales of 200,327 units … not only an all-time record for April but an all-time record for any month of the year. This brings sales year to date to 603K units, also a record.
Although a number of smaller niche brands led the charge with Land Rover up 43.0 percent, Volvo up 37.9 percent and Jaguar up 35.6 percent. It was the large mass market players who put us over the top. Toyota led these players with sales up 15.9 percent, Ford was up 11.0 percent and FCA was up 9.6 percent. Despite a few exceptions many brands had record months.
We do not believe this pace will hold for the rest of the year but with such a great first four months Canada is heading towards another record sales year and should break the record of 1.9 million light vehicle sales set just last year.
A few notes of caution to rein in the applause: First of all, be careful with year over year percentage changes. The first quarter last year was actually somewhat soft so sales this year are off of somewhat weak comparables. Second, fleet sales are on fire and many fleet sales represent low margin vehicles. Third, every OEM tells us that sales to US based customers are growing rapidly. Last year imports of light vehicles in to the US were around 215k units although some of these were older used vehicles. We do not know how many new vehicles have been bought in Canada for export to the U.S. so this could be significant. Both of these artificially inflate the Canadian overall sales totals.
Sales in absolute volumes this year are up by 46K units (603K versus 557K units). If you back out the increase in fleet sales and the increase in sales to American buyers then retail sales to consumers in Canada this year may in fact be down slightly. This is still very high by historical standards but not as healthy as the overall numbers would appear.