By on February 17, 2014


Forgotten in the industry’s excitement over a record year for Canadian auto sales was the challenging start to 2013.

Sales in 2012 had risen to a ten-year-high, and in each of the 2013’s first three months, sales were down, year-over-year. The predicted record sales level eventually materialized, but not in the first quarter.

January 2014’s results, therefore, appear to formulate a better start for automakers competing in the Canadian auto market. In fact, compared with January 2012’s figures, sales were down 2% last month, but the year-over-year tally produced a 0.4% increase.

In recent months, improved auto industry sales figures in North America have been motivated in large part by pickup trucks. Not so in January, not in the United States; not in Canada. Canadian truck sales slid 4.5%. Total GM pickup sales dropped 16.8%, an 888-unit decline. Ford F-Series volume was off January 2013’s pace by 5.6%. The three remaining nameplates in the small/midsize truck segment combined for just 985 sales, only 5.3% of the overall truck category.

Ram sales rose slightly. Toyota, Nissan, and Honda all produced increased truck sales. But with trucks – responsible for fuelling so much more of the Canadian industry’s volume than they do in the U.S. – falling by 885 units, it became clear that January was not a month for extreme auto sales growth.

Minivan sales in January were down 10.9% despite a 9.3% increase in sales of the Dodge Grand Caravan, Canada’s fourth-best-selling vehicle overall. With its twin, the Chrysler Town & Country, losing two-thirds of its volume, total Chrysler minivan sales were down 4.3%. More than 5% of the new vehicles sold in Canada in January 2014 were minivans. Excluding the Mazda 5, Chevrolet Orlando, and Kia Rondo, the category still owned 4.6% of the industry’s total sales. “Full-size” minivans accounted for just 3.1% of the U.S. market last month.

Canada’s perennial car leader, the Honda Civic, was up 32.4% in January 2014 after Civic sales plunged 49.3% a year ago. According to the Automotive News Data Center (subscription required), passenger car sales in Canada were down 6.3% in January 2014 as Acura, Audi, Bentley, BMW, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Ford, Hyundai, Kia, Mini, Porsche, Scion, Toyota, and Volkswagen all reported decreased car sales.

GM car sales were down 35.2%. Even with a big (percentage-wise) Lincoln car increase, total Ford Canada car sales were down 23.3%. The ANDC says total Toyota Canada car sales were down 15.1%. All too often, the passenger car sales improvements reported by 15 other brands (Dodge, Fiat, Honda, Infiniti, Jaguar, Lexus, Lincoln, Maserati, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Smart, and Subaru) were not as significant as the decreases reported by brands in the first group.

With great frequency, however, an automaker’s car losses were cancelled out by SUV/crossover gains. BMW’s four X models generated a 36% year-over-year increase, enough for the BMW brand to post a 5% increase even as car sales slid 26.9%. Despite a 15.9% car sales drop, Toyota brand sales were up 11.8% in large part due to the 118% increase in SUV/crossover sales, led by the RAV4’s 221% jump.

From 29.8% in January 2013, the market share afforded to SUVs and crossovers shot up to 34.5% in January 2014 as seven dozen nameplates combined for a 16.3% increase.

Nevertheless, the follow-up to last year’s first quarter decline proves just how lacking in relevance January auto sales figures are in the Great White North, especially when the January in question was a particularly cold and white one. Last year, Canadians registered nearly twice as many new vehicles in May as they did in January.

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9 Comments on “Canada Sales Recap, February 2014...”

  • avatar

    That RAM is one fine looking truck, no wonder GM truck sales are tanking.

  • avatar

    The Ram is a fine “looking” truck. Great for the guy that wants a fine looking truck.

    Ask the farmer, or the landscaper. or the construction fleet buyer, how he feels about a “fine looking truck”

    • 0 avatar

      Actually, I have. Everybody I have talked to in the last couple of years really likes their Rams. One die-hard GM guy in particular likes his ’12 3500 Ram with 130K so much that he is planning to eventually switch his small fleet to Rams. I believe one of the accolades was “It drives as good as it looks.”

    • 0 avatar

      Well one thing I think helping Ram is there are plenty of folks who buy pickups who do not need a pickup and they buy on looks, I know 4 of these guys who bought pickups brand new that replaced cars for the once every now and then Home Depot run, they all bought the ram. I do not get it but it seems folks are buying these things to be used in a non truck way 350 days a year.

      • 0 avatar

        A test was just done with the Ram 1500 Ecodiesel with every bell and whistle from the spec sheet. It could legally carry 490 pounds. Yes pounds NOT kilograms.

        • 0 avatar

          Yeah, but with money on the hood, how can a guy resist? It’s not like no pickup has ever been overloaded before, or that the guys seth1065 mentioned are going to haul anything anyway. In the old days, it was muscle cars with barely usable back seats and horrendous insurance premiums. Now, the penis-extension of choice is a 4-door pickup.

  • avatar

    A chart would have made reading this article much easier.

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