Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Auto sales nearing record for year

Forecast to be just shy of all-time landmark

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TORONTO -- Canadian auto sales are on the road to besting their 2011 performance, with sales for the first 11 months of the year up 6.5 per cent to nearly 1.6 million vehicles, according to an industry-watcher.

DesRosiers Automotive Consultants said Monday year-to-date vehicle sales in Canada rose to 1.57 million with one month left in the year.

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"A solid December is widely expected, and Canada has a chance at breaching the 1.7-million-unit mark, potentially making 2012 one of the best-ever years for new-vehicle sales in this country," Dennis DesRosiers said in a report.

"We suspect that the market will come in just shy of record levels, but second-best on record is very likely. And there should be more to come over the next few years as the market is expected to continue to grow."

Sales have only broken the 1.7-million mark in one year, 2002, when about 25,000 new vehicles were sold to Americans buying because of favourable exchange rates.

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. November car sales rose 7.6 per cent, while truck sales were up just one per cent.

For the year, car sales were up 10 per cent, compared to four per cent for trucks. Still, more trucks have been sold than cars so far this year and truck sales comprise 54.6 per cent of the market.

Ford Canada is on the road to taking the title of Canada's bestselling automaker of 2012 after reporting strong November sales that put it in first place for another month.

The Big Three Detroit automaker said Monday November sales rose to 19,447, up 7.4 per cent from a year ago, marking its best November since 2001. Car sales at Ford rose 14 per cent, while truck sales were up six per cent.

"November was a record-breaking month for Ford of Canada," said Dianne Craig, president and CEO at Ford of Canada.

"The Canadian auto industry has seen incredible growth in 2012, and we are pleased that Ford of Canada has outpaced it in November."

For the first 11 months of 2012, sales rose one per cent to 259,194 vehicles from 256,597 in 2011.

Meanwhile, rival Chrysler Canada said it sold 17,013 vehicles in Canada last month, up five per cent from November 2011, when the company sold 16,244, falling behind GM sales for the month.

The U.S. automaker said the increase helped it post its longest growth streak in its history at 36 consecutive months of year-over-year sales growth.

Chrysler also called it the best start to a year through 11 months since 2000.

Passenger-car sales improved to 2,802 cars sold for the month, up from 1,909 sold in the same month one year ago.Total truck sales dipped to 14,211 compared with 14,335 in November 2011.

At GM Canada, November sales slipped 3.2 per cent to 17,372, besting Chrysler for the month. Year-to-date sales, however, are behind Chrysler, down 5.5 per cent to 212,202.

Meanwhile, foreign nameplates continue to gain traction against the Detroit players and now hold about 55 per cent of market share.

Japanese automaker Toyota Canada said November sales of 14,512 Toyota, Lexus and Scion vehicles fell just slightly from 14,563 sold last November. However, year-to-date Toyota sales are up 21.1 per cent from last year, when the company was struggling to pump out supply after Japan's devastating tsunami in March.

Fellow Japanese carmarker Hyundai Auto Canada Corp. said year-over-year sales grew 20 per cent to 10,101 units for the best November in its history. Hyundai has sold 128,420 vehicles in Canada year-to-date, a gain of 4.6 per cent over the first 11 months of last year.

At Suburu Canada, sales climbed to 2,727 units, up 35.5 per cent over the same period last year.

Mazda Canada said November sales totalled 5,220, which represents an increase of 1 per cent compared to November 2011.

 

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 4, 2012 B3

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