Red-hot auto sales continue in July

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For the third consecutive month and the sixth of seven this year, new-vehicle sales in Canada in July set an all-time record for the month. Sales of 181,834 new cars, trucks and utility vehicles were up 4.9 per cent  from July 2016, 8.8 per cent better than the five-year historical average for the month.

Year-to-date sales in Canada are now 1,220,902 – almost 60,000 units ahead of last year’s record-setting pace at this time.

“With each passing month, we are starting to run out of descriptors to describe this market that continues to show no signs of slowing down,” said David Adams, president of Global Automakers of Canada. “Once again, July sales have been phenomenal and a stronger than expected economic situation in Canada doesn’t hurt either,” he added.

Confirming the consistency of that market strength, July’s SAAR (Seasonally Adjusted Annualized sales Rate), topped the 2.0-million mark for the third month in a row, according to DesRosiers Automotive Consultants (DAC). The SAAR has consistently been above 1.96 million every month this year.

The current strength of the Canadian market bodes well for another record sales year, with an average of just 146,000 sales per month needed for the remainder of the year to meet last year’s total of 1.95 million new vehicles sold — a modest target in historical terms.

Dennis DesRosiers notes, however, that the Canadian market continues to be in contrast with that of the U.S. where it has seen its fifth consecutive decline in year-over-year monthly comparisons.“Time will tell if these two paths continue to diverge or if some of the issues affecting the U.S. market see themselves manifest locally,” DesRosiers observes.

GM on the move

While Ford claimed the top sales spot again in July, with 27,650 vehicles sold, that total was down 7.1 per cent from last year’s figures. General Motors, in contrast, saw sales increase by 21.6 per cent from last July, to 25,852 new units.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles was well back in third for the month with 23,467 sales, down 4.9 per cent from last July.

Those figures move GM past FCA into second-place in the year-to-date sales race, with 176,348 sales (+16.4 per cent) vs 175,041 (-1.2 per cent). Ford remains solidly out front with year-to-date sales of 187,938 new vehicles (+4.6 per cent).

GM has gained 1.4 per cent of market share (14.4 per cent) from a year ago, while FCA gave up 0.9 per cent of share (14.3 per cent) and Ford held steady (15.4 per cent).

Further down the chart in fourth-place, Toyota’s sales were up 3.4 per cent in July, bringing year-to-date sales closer to neutral (-0.2 per cent), although the Japanese leader’s market share remains down 0.5 per cent from a year ago at 9.8 per cent.

Honda continued to gain ground in fifth, with sales up 10.7 per cent in July and 12.0 per cent year-to-date, supporting a 0.6 per cent increase in market share to 8.8%.

Hyundai regained sixth place from Nissan for the month, despite a 14.8 per cent sales decline compared to the latter’s 11.0 per cent gain. Year-to-date, however, Nissan (+8.2 per cent) held the spot over Hyundai (-9.1 per cent) by about 1,300 sales.

A resurgent Volkswagen (+37.9 per cent) leap-frogged Kia (+15.0 per cent) and Mazda (+11.5 per cent) to take eighth place in July. Year-to-date, however, the standings for eighth-through-tenth are Kia (+3.3 per cent), Mazda (+7.2 per cent) and VW (-3.2 per cent).

Subaru (+5.8 per cent), with its best July ever, held off Mercedes-Benz (+10.7), the top luxury brand, for 11th, and the two maintain that order year-to-date.

Winners and losers

In percentage terms, the big gainer for the month once gain was Maserati (+86.7 per cent), followed by Volkswagen (+37.9 per cent), Mitsubishi (+29.9 per cent), Audi (+29.7 per cent) and GM (+21.1 per cent). Losers on the month, compared to last July, included Smart (-32.1 per cent), Hyundai (-14.8 per cent), Mini (-8.3 per cent), Ford (-7.1 per cent), FCA (-4.9 per cent) and BMW (-1.8 per cent).

July truck sales, including SUVs, were up 8.3 per cent from 2016, while passenger car sales fell by 1.7 per cent. Trucks increased their share of the market to 67.4 per cent, year-to-date, compared to 32.6 per cent for passenger cars.

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 automaker.]

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