June sales bounce back

New-vehicle sales in Canada bounced back strongly in June to the highest SAAR (Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate) in a year, following May’s precipitous plunge to the lowest volume for the month since 1997. May’s SAAR was just 1.4 million while June’s was up in the range of 1.67 million (Scotiabank figure) to 1.7 million (DesRosiers figure). Find out who’s up and who’s down.

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It is a measure of the on-going level of volatility in the market that two back-to-back months can exhibit such a dramatic swing.

Total sales of 164,796 vehicles in June were up 6.6 percent – over 12,000 units – from the same month in 2010, which was itself relatively strong. That rebound kept year-to-date sales (807,772) ahead of last year by 2.7 percent at the mid-year point.

June’s sales were also 5.8 percent above the five-year average for the month but, dragged down by May’s results, the year-to-date total for 2011 was 0.7 percent below the five-year average for the first half.

(See accompanying sales table for complete results.)

If the second half of 2011 parallels that of 2010 we’re heading for annual sales of 1.599 million – a 1.3-percent improvement.

But Scotiabank senior economist, Carlos Gomes says he expects an upturn in H2, as Japanese production levels return to normal, in which case a return to a 1.6-million-plus sales year are looking like a good probability.

In fact, a review of the six-month moving average for SAAR, which smooths out the effects of month-to-month volatility, shows it running close to that level for the past year.

Detroit Three show strength

Collectively, Detroit Three sales increased by 11.8 percent in June, compared to 2010, giving them a 51.4-percent share of the market for the month.

Year-to-date, the import brands retain the lead, however, with a 52.2-percent market share, compared to the D3’s 47.8 percent.

Chrysler (+26.8% year-over-year) was the biggest gainer of the Detroit Three in June – up 10.7 percent from the five-year average for the company. It has gained market share as well, up 1.4 percent to share to 15.0 percent through the first half.

On a percentage basis, Ford’s gain (5.5%) over last year was more modest, but it was up 18.7 percent from its 5-year average for the month, keeping the Blue Oval first in the sales race for both the month and the year.

Ford also gained market share (+0.5%) in the first half, giving it 17.4 percent of the total market.

General Motors’ June sales were up 8.7 percent from last year but down 28.7 percent from their five-year norm. That was enough to regain second place from Chrysler for the month and year-to-date, although GM’s market share for the year-to-date slipped 0.2 percent to 15.5 percent.

Japanese continue to suffer

Collectively import-brand sales were up just 1.7 percent in June, reducing their market share for the month to 48.6 percent.

That decline was due almost wholly to the Japanese brands, which are still suffering from reduced production schedules as a result of the March earthquake and Tsunami. Combined sales of Japanese brands were down 7.6 percent in June.

Not all Japanese brands were hurting, however. Nissan (+47.4%), Mitsubishi (+19.1%) and Subaru (+7.2%) all made gains in June.

The big losers in terms of volume were Toyota (-27.7%) and Honda (-19.1%). Suzuki (-37.4%), Lexus (-36.8%), Infiniti (-25.0%), Acura (-19.1%) and Mazda (-2.9%) also experienced declines in the month.

In contrast, sales of both European (+13.3%) and Korean (+18.1%) brands were up strongly.

Kia (+20.7%) and Hyundai (+16.8%) continued their relentless march up the sales charts, with the latter once again surpassing Toyota and Honda to claim fourth place for the month, although Toyota hung on to that position year-to-date.

All the European brands except Jaguar (-20.0%) and Smart (-7.7%) improved their June sales over last year. Porsche (+34.4%) and Mini (+30.1%) led the way, followed by Land Rover (+21.2%), Audi (+20.2%), BMW (+16.8%), Volkswagen (+11.8%), Volvo (+11.7%) and Mercedes-Benz (+6.8%).

BMW outsold Mercedes-Benz to take the luxury car lead for the month, but not for the year-to-date.

Truck sales were up 7.0 percent in May, while those of passenger cars were up by 6.2 percent, further reducing the gap between the two. In terms of year-to-date share, however, trucks continue to dominate (55.1 % vs 44.9%).

About Todd Phillips

Todd Phillips is the editorial director of Universus Media Group Inc. and the editor of Canadian auto dealer magazine. Todd can be reached at tphillips@universusmedia.com.

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