TORONTO -- Chrysler has begun 2013 as the No. 1 seller of vehicles in Canada as its sales continued to improve in January despite what auto-industry analyst Desrosiers says was a 2.2 per cent decline industry-wide last month.
The resurgent automaker, rescued by U.S. and Canadian government loans after filing for U.S. bankruptcy protection in 2009, says January was the company's 38th consecutive month of year-over-year sales growth in Canada.
Overall, the company said Friday it sold 17,013 vehicles in Canada last month, up three per cent from 16,584 vehicles sold in January 2012.
That beat out Ford, which had closed out 2012 as the country's top seller, but posted a second-place finish of 16,197 vehicle sales this January.
General Motors, the other big North American automaker, clocked in with sales of 13,761 vehicles, a 6.2 per cent increase over 2012.
"Starting the new year as the best-selling manufacturer in the country validates the strong investments we have made into our product portfolio," chief operating officer Dave Buckingham said in announcing the January figures.
Ford, although it fell from first place, still posted an eight per cent increase over January 2012 and marked its best sales total for the month in 10 years.
"Ford of Canada had a strong 2012, and we are off to a great start this year with sales increases across the entire lineup," said Dianne Craig, president and CEO of Ford of Canada.
"With forecasts showing that 2013 could be a record sales year, we see lot of opportunity for sales growth for Ford."
Volkswagen Canada reported a strong start to 2013, saying it sold 3,373 new cars and light trucks in January -- the company's best-ever January and 8.5 per cent higher than last year.
John White, president and chief executive of Volkswagen Canada, said the company built momentum last year and "we are confident that this will continue throughout 2013."
Honda Canada reported combined sales of 7,220 units by its Honda and luxury Acura division, down 21 per cent from last year. Honda sales fell 27 per cent to 6,211, while Acura sales improved 41 per cent to 1,009 units.
"January 2012 was an exceptional sales month for us as we caught up to unfulfilled demand for the Civic caused by lack of supply in the last three months of 2011," said Jerry Chenkin, executive vice-president of Honda Canada.
Desrosiers, which issues an independent report on vehicle sales, says other major automakers, including Toyota and South Korea's Hyundai, also saw year-over-year sales declines in January.
Toyota kicked off the year with monthly sales of 8,623, down 12.5 per cent, while its luxury Lexus division saw sales decline marginally to 815 vehicles from 810.
-- The Canadian Press