Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Late car-sales decline can't stop record

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A slump in sales in the final month of 2013 failed to prevent Manitoba dealerships from setting a record for the most new vehicles sold in a single year.

Statistics Canada data show 56,275 new cars and trucks were sold in the province last year. That easily smashed the previous record of 52,236 units set in 2012 -- the first year sales here surpassed the 50,000-unit threshold.

"Across the board, for new-vehicle sales it was a good year," Manitoba Motor Dealers Association president Kent Ledingham said in an interview Friday. "In general, most dealerships would have had a strong year."

Ledingham said a number of factors are helping fuel the demand for new vehicles, including attractive manufacturer incentives, low interest rates and a shortage of used vehicles.

"All of the manufacturers are being very aggressive with their incentives and promotions," he said, offering things such as zero per cent financing on new-vehicle purchases.

"That's the one everybody is talking about."

As well, many of the new models are more fuel-efficient and offer all the new technological bells and whistles buyers are looking for these days, he added.

Ledingham also noted the demand isn't limited to any one particular type of vehicle.

"We're selling a lot of trucks and (sport) utilities, and lots of cars have been going off the lots, too."

The Statistics Canada numbers confirm there were strong gains last year in sales of both passenger cars and trucks. The latter category includes trucks, buses, vans, minivans, sport-utility and crossover vehicles.

The agency said truck sales jumped 7.1 per cent to 37,386 units from 34,914 in 2012. And car sales climbed by nine per cent to 18,889 units from 17,322.

However, it was a different story in the final month of 2013. December sales were down 15.6 per cent from the previous month -- 3,520 units versus 3,840 -- and down 8.1 per cent from a year earlier, when 3,840 new cars and trucks were sold.

Nationally, new vehicle sales were up 3.5 per cent in 2013, climbing to 1.78 million units from 1.72 million in 2012, Statistics Canada said.

murray.mcneill@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 15, 2014 B6

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