Canadian auto sales continued their torrid pace in April, with an 8.9 per cent year-over-year increase. BMO Economics is now projecting that this years sales pace may match the record levels seen in 2012.
Canadian auto sales continued their torrid pace in April, with an 8.9 per cent year-over-year increase.
Sales were sufficiently brisk to reverse the negative year-to-date trend that developed during Q1 2013.
A YTD gain of 1.4 percent now holds for the total market, propelling the Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate (SAAR) to a 2013 high of 1.74 million units.
BMO Economics is now projecting that this year’s sales pace may match the record levels seen in 2012.
“After keeping within striking distance of last year’s record setting first quarter, it looks like sales are poised to move alongside last year’s speedy pace for the remainder of the year – chalking up another strong showing for the Canadian market,” said Alex Koustas, economist, BMO Capital Markets. “Light trucks and cross-over units continue to be the market mover, with a slew of updates and new models still in store to pique consumer interest.”
Full-line American and Japanese brands enjoyed sales growth last month, while Korean OEMs and some prominent luxury players failed to capitalize on the market’s momentum. Ford (27,895 units / +15.5%) charted the highest sales total in April, followed by Chrysler (25,675 units / +5.0%) and General Motors (25,071 units / +18.9%). General Motors’ performance is particularly notable as it represents the company’s highest units total since June 2011 and its strongest year-over-year percentage gain since March of the same year.
"We experienced strong sales in virtually all of our vehicle segments in April," said Marc Comeau, GM of Canada’s vice-president of sales, service and marketing. "We’re optimistic for the remainder of 2013 as we continue with our aggressive launch plans.”
Japanese brands Honda/Acura (15,343 units / +19.9%), Toyota/Lexus (20,089 units / +7.2%), Nissan/Infiniti (8,078 units / +16.8%), Subaru (3,562 units / +29.4%) and Mitsubishi (2,265 units / +73.4%) posted respectable growth.
The market also buoyed Volkswagen (6,248 units / +11.2%) but failed to provide much boost to Hyundai (13,517 units / -5.5%) or Kia (7,581 units / -5.4%). Both Korean brands have now lost roughly half a point of market share apiece on a year-to-date basis, bleeding some of the gains won from Japanese manufacturers over the last five years.
BMW/MINI (-2.1%) and Mercedes-Benz/smart (-14.9%) saw slightly negative returns in April; Audi (+6.1%) sold well last month but the brand’s YTD performance remains below 2012 levels.
Robert Sadokierski, head of dealership financing, Bank of Montreal says the strong showing is great news for the Canadian auto industry. “These April numbers are yet another indication of a strong year ahead, and dealers are in a good position to support consumer demand.”