TORONTO—Vehicle sales were up nearly seven per cent from a year ago, putting sales on track for what could be a record year.
Overall vehicle sales in Canada rose 7.8 per cent year-over-year last month to 135,476, compared with 125,680 in October 2011, according to DesRosiers Automotive Consultants.
“Indeed, this is the best October ever, beating the previous record from 2002 when sales climbed to 134,694 units,” Dennis DesRosiers said in a commentary.
“This positive performance pushed the (seasonally-adjusted annual rate) up to 1.78 million units, setting up Canada to see as many as 1.7 million units sold on a full-year basis.”
DesRosiers notes that sales have only broken the 1.7 million mark in one other year, 2002, when about 25,000 of those vehicles were sold to Americans buying because of favourable exchange rates.
“If you take these export volumes into account, 2012 could be the best year ever,” he said.
Gas prices have been a key concern for cost-conscious buyers and that’s helped push growth in the smaller, more fuel-efficient car category higher than in the truck segment.
Car sales were up 16.3 per cent in October, while truck sales grew at a slower 1.7 per cent pace. For the year, car sales were up 10.1 per cent, compared to 4.1 per cent for trucks. Still, more trucks have been sold than cars so far this year and truck sales comprise 54.4 per cent of the market.
Ford Canada claimed the title of Canada’s top-selling automaker for the month and for the year so far, taking about 17 per cent of the market share year-to-date.
The Canadian division of the U.S. automaker said its overall sales grew seven per cent to 20,565 vehicles from 19,190 in October 2011, largely driven by a 17 per cent jump in car sales.
Truck sales were also up, with a five per cent increase over last October.
Since January, Ford’s sales are up just slightly, 0.5 per cent over last year’s sales to date.
Meanwhile, rival Chrysler Canada said sales increased 2.7 per cent in its best October since 2002, also marking its 35th consecutive month of year-over-year sales growth.
Chrysler said vehicle sales totalled 17,504 last month, up from 17,049 in October 2011.
Increases in passenger car sales drove the growth, up 15 per cent, whereas truck sales rose less than one per cent.
Meanwhile, DesRosiers reports that sales at General Motors fell 4.6 per cent to 18,651 vehicles sold, leaving it the only big U.S. automaker with slower sales this year. It managed to squeeze out Chrysler for the number two spot in the month, though Chrysler still claims that spot on a year-to-date basis.
Meanwhile, foreign nameplates continue to gain traction against the Detroit players and now hold about 55 per cent of market share.
Sales at Japanese automakers ramped up as they continue to benefit from a return to full inventory after months of playing catch-up following the earthquake and tsunami last year.
Toyota Canada said preliminary estimates indicate sales jumped 11 per cent from last October and sales of its luxury Lexus vehicles were up 23 per cent.
And Honda Canada Inc. has reported a 20 per cent increase in vehicle sales in October compared with a year ago, led by a 28 per cent increase in its Acura luxury division.
DesRosiers pointed out that 13 automakers saw double digit increases last month with some of the biggest growth coming at Kia, which was up 24.1 per cent, Subaru, 31.2 per cent higher, Suzuki, up 25.3 per cent and Volkswagen, where sales grew 24.8 per cent.
Most luxury automakers did well last month, with Porsche sales up 116.7 per cent, Audi sales growing 37.6 per cent and BMW sales up 14 per cent.
Some exceptions to the overall positive sales momentum included Volvo, down 32.2 per cent, Mercedes Benz, off 9.2 per cent, Mazda, 5.6 per cent lower and Jaguar, which saw sales fall 28.3 per cent, according to DesRosiers.