Boom times continue with record February sales

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Defying widespread expectations of a slowdown, the new-vehicle market remained buoyant in Canada in February, setting yet another new monthly record. While sales declined south of the border, they were up by 3.2% in the Great White North, with 123,032 new vehicles sold.

“One has to wonder whether or not the mild February weather gave people spring fever to go out and get a new car,” said David Adams, president of the Global Automakers of Canada (GAC). Whatever the reason, not only did that total surpass last February’s all-time high, it obliterated the five-year average for the month by 13%, according to Adams.

Year-to-date (YTD) sales are now 2.7% ahead of last year’s record-setting start. And, as was the case in January, the seasonally adjusted annualized sales rate (SAAR) for the month continued in the 1.98-million range, according to DesRosiers Automotive Consultants (DAC). The full-year sales record set in 2016 was just under 1.95 million.

Truck sales, including SUVs, were up 5.7% from February 2016, accounting for 69.0% of the market, while passenger car sales fell by 3.3%.

FCA maintains sales lead

As it did in January, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) topped the sales charts in February — albeit by a margin of just 50 vehicles over Ford. FCA’s total of 19,115 vehicles, led by strong fleet sales, was up 1.6% from a year ago, and it’s on the same pace year-to-date.

While Ford’s sales of 18,965 vehicles were 3.1% ahead of last February’s, they still failed to match FCA’s total. Year-to-date, Ford’s sales are up by 3.3%.

General Motors made the greatest gain of the Detroit Three with a 5.1% increase to 16,528 vehicles sold, gaining a tenth of share to 13.3%, year-to-date. Ford also gained a tenth (to 15.5%), while FCA lost a tenth (16.1%).

In fourth place, Toyota’s sales for February fell by 8.7% from a year ago, giving up seven-tenths in market share (to 9.8%). Conversely, Honda (+11.6%) picked up seven-tenths of share (8.4%).

As it did in January, Nissan (+6.5%) replaced Hyundai (-12.7%) in fifth place, and Mazda (+15.0%) retained its newfound seventh-place position, followed by Kia (-8.7%).

Mercedes-Benz (+22.5%) continued to flex its muscles, claiming ninth place and relegating Volkswagen (-8.9%) to tenth, not far ahead of surging Subaru (+16.6%).

Like Mercedes, most luxury brands continued to show year-over-year strength, led again by Maserati (+429.2 %) and Jaguar (+238.3%). Porsche (+36.4%), Audi (+27.8%) and Lexus (+22.9%) also made big gains, while Infiniti (-3.6%) and Land Rover (-15.0%) were the only luxury brands in the negative column.

Ford’s F-Series continued to be the best-selling truck and the best-selling vehicle overall, while the Honda Civic was the best-selling passenger car.

[NOTE: Data quoted in this report were sourced from DesRosiers Automotive Consultants, Global Automakers of Canada and individual automakers.]

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