September’s record Canadian auto sales were powered by huge gains among many of the country’s most popular nameplates. The record-setting industry performance occurred despite the declining volume reported by the manufacturer which sells the greatest number of vehicles south of the border. Numerous small-scale luxury automakers continue to post vastly improved sales compared with results from 2012.
Automobile manufacturers collectively reported a 4.1% year-over-year improvement in September sales, an increase of nearly 6000 units, an increase of more than 14,000 units compared with September 2011. 42.9% of the new vehicles registered in Canada in September were sold by the Ford Motor Company, Chrysler Group, and General Motors, down slightly from 43.2% in September 2012 as volume at the Detroit Three grew 3.5%. In September, those three manufacturers owned 45.3% of the U.S. market, where General Motors wasn’t outsold by Hyundai-Kia.
GM Canada sales were down 2.6% to 18,270 (up 2.1% to 179,923 through nine months) as the improving Hyundai brand and declining Kia brand combined for a 0.6% improvement to 18,538 September sales. Kia’s consistently falling sales in 2013 dragged the Korean pair down 0.7% to 168,171 units during the first three quarters of 2013. Ford MoCo and Chrysler’s five brands lead the way, both having already topped 200,000 sales, a feat accomplished by both automakers one month earlier this year than in 2012.
Hyundai and Kia, not unlike Canada’s fourth-best-selling manufacturer, Toyota, rely on cars for more than half their volume, and that reliance exists in a market that’s increasingly more interested in trucks, SUVs, and crossovers. Ford and Chrysler generated 48% and 32% of their September volume with a single pickup truck line. (Pickup trucks accounted for 37% of GM Canada sales last month.)
Car sales, up just 0.4% this year according to the Automotive News Data Center, did rise 1.3% in September. But that 831-unit increase is mercilessly contrasted with a light truck market which grew by 5100 sales.
Even so, at the top of the heap, Canada’s best-selling car, the Honda Civic, was up 8% to 6262 sales. The Civic was responsible for 9% of the passenger car market. 14 of Canada’s 20 best-selling cars, including six of the top ten, posted year-over-year increases. Six of Canada’s 20 most popular cars were midsize competitors, up from four a month earlier.
And what about those trucks? The category as a whole was up 11.5% in September. 91% of the trucks sold last month were driven away from Ford, Chrysler, and GM dealers in the form of the F-Series, Ram, GMC Sierra, and the Chevrolet Silverado, the only one of the four to report declining volume. Truck sales are up 8% this year, and sales of the five top sellers – which includes the fifth-ranked Toyota Tacoma – are up 13%.
Ford also owns the title of Canada’s best-selling SUV. The brand’s leading utility vehicle, the Escape, was down 10% in September yet still sold nearly half again more frequently than the second-ranked Toyota RAV4. The Escape is America’s second-best-selling utility vehicle this year, but in its September victory, only sold 5% more often than the second-ranked Honda CR-V. Canadian SUV and crossover sales are growing at a faster rate than trucks, cars, and certainly minivans, which fell 5% in September.
In a rosy market, there are still sad cases. Among brands, September’s sharpest declines were reported by soon-to-be-erased Suzuki, down 56%, as well as Scion, Mazda, Fiat, Jeep, and BMW, all of which slid more than 10% from their September 2012 totals. Chevrolet, Volvo, Mini, Audi, Mitsubishi, and Kia all reported September drops, although Chevrolet, Audi, and Mitsubishi are up on year-to-date terms. Lincoln and Smart are not.
On the flip side, Jaguar sales shot up 152% in September and Cadillac reported a 93% jump. Yet in Canada, these brands don’t sell as well as they do in the U.S. market, which is nine times bigger than the Canadian automobile market this year. Jaguar sells 13 times more cars in the U.S. than they do in Canada. Cadillac sales in the United States are 20 times higher than they are in Canada.