Optimism curtailed by August sales

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So-so month leaves balance of the year in doubt

It seems as if it’s just not possible to put together more than two consecutive months of good sales in 2010. After a couple months, June and July, with SAARs (Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rates)  above 1.60 million, August’s sales fell back into the 1.52-million SAAR range, according to DesRosiers Automotive Consultants.

Scotia Economics calculated it at 1.57 million, but whichever figure you choose, it’s down at least 80,000 units/year from the pace of the previous month. That’s still better than last year (1.46 milion), of course, but it’s behind the 1.59-million average for the past five years.

Flat August sales

August’s sales of 136,069 units were essentially flat – up a paltry 0.5 percent from 2009’s disastrously low result. And they were down 7.7 percent from the five-year average for the month. Year-to-date sales are 7.5 percent ahead of 2009’s at this point, but 3.6 percent below the five-year average for the period.

Based on the strong June/July figures, Scotiabank senior economist, Carlos Gomes had raised his full-year 2010 sales forecast to 1.565 million units, from an initial level of 1.525 million. That increase seemed conservative at the time, but August’s faltering sales may make it optimistic – although that’s just about where sales are now running year-to-date.

Brand performance tends to extremes

As has been the case throughout the year, overall sales results for the month did not represent the experience of most individual brands, few of which performed anywhere close to the market average.

Among the big winners, compared to last year, were: Land Rover (+55.2%); Audi (+30.1%); Infiniti (+29.1%); Subaru (+20.0%); and Kia (+16.2%). Notably, Honda also reversed its negative trend of several months to achieve a sales increase of 8.4 percent.

Conversely, Toyota (-30.5%) remained prominent on the negative side of the ledger, with only Smart (-35.4%) and Mitsubishi (-31.1%) faring worse. With sales down 30.5 percent on the month and
10.8 percent for the year-to-date, in a market that
is up 7.5 percent year-to-date, “Toyota’s level of sales has to be a serious concern,” says DesRosiers.

Other big losers for the month included:
Suzuki (-23.7%); Lexus (-18.2%); MINI (-14.7%)
and Nissan (-13.7%).

Three-month trends

The June-July surge and August fall-back notwithstanding, the three-month moving overall
sales average remains relatively stable. It stayed between 5 and 6 percent over most of the previous quarter and edged up slightly to 6.2 percent ahead
of 2009 for the June-August period.

Compared to the same period last year, the big
winners over the past three-month period were:

• Land Rover (+57.5%)

• Chrysler (+44.0%)

• Audi (+27.6%)

• Subaru (+26.3%)

The biggest losers were:

• Smart (-31.9%)

• Suzuki(-28.8%)

• Toyota (-22.7%)


Truck sales for the three-month period were up
+20.4 percent from 2009, while car sales were down
by 6.8 percent.

As is the case with monthly sales, however, comparing results only to last year can be misleading, given that 2009 deviated from the norm in many ways.

Comparing the three-month data to the average for the same period over the past five years
highlights these big gainers:

• Audi (+68.4%)

• Mercedes-Benz (+64.0%)

• Kia (+56.2%)

• Subaru (+50.0%)

• Hyundai (+49.3%)


On the negative side, the greatest declines were experienced by:

• Smart (-42.7%)

• General Motors (-28.8%)

• Toyota (-25.4%)

• Honda (-20.7%)

• Volvo (-19.5%)

Compared to the five-year average, truck sales were up by 16.0 percent, while passenger car sales fell by 17.8 percent.

September results

September sales results and their analysis can be found in our weekly e-Newsletter, Dealership Digest as well as on our website www.canadianautodealer.ca.

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