Canadian Manufacturing

Auto sales to continue on record pace thanks to Prairies, pickups

Scotiabank predicts passenger vehicle sales across country will climb to 1.76 million units this year



TORONTO—The record-setting pace of Canadian auto sales will continue this year, according to a new report from Scotiabank, with the Prairie provinces continuing to drive the growth through a penchant for pickups.

The financial firm’s Global Auto Report predicts passenger vehicle sales across the country will climb to 1.76 million units this year after hitting 1.74 million units in 2013.

Scoatiabank credits a stabilizing global economy, low interest rates and new vehicle affordability as major factors in the continued trajectory.

“New vehicle affordability in Canada is at the best level in two decades, partly linked to manufacturer incentives, and consumer confidence is expected to strengthen as the pace of job creation picks up,” Carlos Gomes, Scotiabank senior economist and auto industry specialist, said in the report.

Alberta will be the Canadian auto industry’s growth leader in 2014, with passenger vehicle sales expected to hit 262,000 units there after reaching 257,000 in 2013—three per cent above than the pre-recession high of 249,000 units.

The sales jump in Alberta comes thanks to a buoyant labour market and ongoing investments in the energy sector, as well as record population inflows.

Pickup trucks are still by-and-large the province’s sales leader, according to Scotiabank, accounting for more than 75 per cent of overall sales volumes.

Alberta represents 20 per cent of all light truck sales in Canada, but only eight per cent of car purchases.

The other Prairie provinces will also outpace the gains in the rest of Canada, with vehicle purchases in Saskatchewan expected to climb to 60,000 units after hitting a record-high 58,000 units in 2013.

Sales in Manitoba totalled 54,000 units last year—the highest level since the mid-1980s.

The financial firm predicts sales there to 56,000 units.

The rest of Canada still fared well overall, with British Columbia, Ontario, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador encroaching on or exceeding record levels.

Car and light truck sales in B.C. reached 180,000 units last year—the fourth-highest level on record—and are expected to edge up to 182,000 in 2014 as the province experiences improving prospects in its resource sectors.

Vehicle purchases in Ontario increased to 646,000 units last year, according to Scotiabank, reaching the second-highest level on record.

Sales in Nova Scotia jumped eight per cent last year to 52,000 units, with a modest gain of an additional 1,000 units sold predicted this year to reach 53,000.

In Newfoundland and Labrador, sales climbed to a record-high 35,000 vehicles last year.

Vehicle sales in Quebec underperformed last year, with volumes remaining flat at 415,000 units.

Scotiabank expects purchases to inch up to 416,000 units in 2014 as economic growth picks up there.

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