November 2013 went down as the highest-volume November in the history of Canadian auto sales. It followed three consecutive years with November improvements.
November is traditionally not a high-volume month for automakers in Canada, and by the standards of the previous eight months, last month was no different from the norm. Nevertheless, compared with the previous year’s 126,000 November new vehicle sales, last month’s 134,000-unit result represented a massive change, a change which was brought on by all but a handful of automobile brands.
GMC and Hyundai both posted very slim losses. Kia sales fell 4% – Kia Canada hasn’t reported a brand-wide year-over-year improvement since last December. Chevrolet sales slid 4%, although big improvements at Buick and Cadillac helped push GM Canada to a 0.6% increase. Acura was down 6%; its Honda parent brand posted a 13% gain and its best November since 2006. Chrysler brand sales fell 16%, Scion was down 25%, and predictably, Suzuki fell 75%.
On the flip side, an industry which collectively rose 6.5% was shoved along by a 34% uptick at Jeep, 22% gains at BMW, Buick, and Subaru, a 20% Nissan improvement, and some significant percentage gains at low-volume brands like Maserati, Jaguar, Cadillac, Lincoln, and Land Rover. Chrysler Group sales jumped 13%, the Toyota brand trio was up 7%, and the VW Group was up 3%, 428 sales back of Nissan Canada.
With a few of their products, Volkswagen Canada is undergoing the same sort of problems the brand is encountering in the United States. Through eleven months, the replace-it-already Golf is down 13%. The Golf plays a much greater role in Canada (19% of VW sales) than it does in the U.S. (8% of VW sales). So soon after its introduction, Passat sales are down 4% in 2013.
Still, the Jetta’s Canadian success mostly overshadows these issues, as it accounts for 49% of Volkswagen brand sales in Canada. Jetta sales are up 16% this year but fell 5% in November. Passat sales actually jumped 35% in November. The Tiguan has been aided by a price drop that’s seen YTD volume jump 26%; it’s attracting 12% of Volkswagen sales in Canada, just 7% in the U.S. Volkswagen’s market share in Canada this year has risen from 3.5% to 3.6%. Volkswagen owns just 2.6% of the U.S. market, down from 3% a year ago.
Like Volkswagen, Mazda also succeeds to a far greater extent in Canada, where it owns 4.1% of the market. (Only 1.8% of U.S. new vehicle buyers choose a Mazda.) Mazda has struggled through much of 2013 to find growth, but the 3’s transition, despite the 6’s massive 72% drop to just 212 sales, helped fuel a 13% year-over-year increase in November.
Including the Fiat 500L, Chrysler car sales rose 14% in November 2013. 43% of the group’s car volume was generated by the Dart, the best-selling car in the lineup in November, which was the Dart’s best Canadian sales month so far. The Dart was Canada’s 11th-best-selling car last month.
Honda sold more than four times that many Civics, however, and that was more than enough for Canada’s best-selling car to hold its title for a seventh consecutive month. The Mazda 3 ranked second, but trailed the Civic by more than 2000 units.
Ford’s Escape was Canada’s top-selling utility vehicle in November, even with its 4% decline. The Escape leads the second-ranked Toyota RAV4 (up 42% in November) by 11,289 sales with one month remaining on the calendar. The BMW X5 ranked 17th in Canadian utility vehicle sales in November. With 912 sales, the X5 found more new owners than the Ford Explorer, GMC Terrain, and all other premium brand SUV/CUV nameplates.
Trucks continue to headline Canadian auto sales stories. 16.7% of all the new vehicles sold last month were pickups, a vehicle category which produced a 5.9% year-over-year increase. Only 6% of the trucks sold weren’t full-size pickups. Together, sales of the full-size F-Series, Ram, Sierra, Silverado, Tundra, and Titan were up 8.5%.
Minivans, on the other hand, slid 8.1%. Subtract the Mazda 5, Chevrolet Orlando, and Kia Rondo – the latter two are unavailable in America – and remaining big minivans were actually up 11%. Only 965 copies of those small vans were sold last month, a 55% year-over-year decrease.