In a record-setting April for the Canadian auto industry, Ford Canada reclaimed its position atop the sales leaderboard by outselling the Chrysler Group’s various and sundry brands by a handful of units.
The Chrysler Group’s five brands continue to lead the way in year-to-date terms thanks to Jeep and Ram success. According to Chrysler Canada, cars account for 13% of the company’s sales this year, down from 20% in the same period of 2013. Even without a single car sale, Dodge, Jeep, and Ram would be outselling all of General Motors in Canada in 2014.
It’s not as though Chrysler is alone with its poor car results. (Excluding the 200 and Avenger, Chrysler Canada car sales are down 14%, rather than 31%.) The industry, according to Automotive News, has suffered from a 5% decrease in passenger car sales in 2014.
And while April results weren’t as bad – the 1% drop equalled a loss of only around 500 units – the car category’s decline was worsened by major losses among some of the country’s top sellers. The Honda Civic and Hyundai Elantra, Canada’s two best-selling cars, were down 14% and 15%, respectively, in April. As a result, the Toyota Corolla was Canada’s most popular car last month.
At Acura, BMW, Buick, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Ford, Hyundai, Kia, Mazda, Mini, Porsche, Scion, Toyota, Volkswagen, and Volvo, year-to-date passenger car sales have decreased.
In the month of April, specifically, car sales accounted for just 43.6% of the Canadian auto industry’s record-setting volume, down from 45.7% in April 2013, and 49.4% in April 2012.
Pickups have made headway, although sales of trucks have fallen slightly this year and in the month of April as numerous nameplates disappeared, the GM twins failed to improve their Canadian totals, and the replacement phase begins for Ford’s aging but best-selling F-Series.
Sales of utility vehicles are booming. Seven dozen SUVs and crossovers produced a 12% year-over-year April sales improvement.
Canada’s perennial SUV/CUV leader, the Ford Escape, was up 18% to 4821 sales in April, a strong enough result for the Escape to outsell all but three vehicles: two trucks and one car.
Over the last four months, SUVs and crossovers have been responsible for just under one-third of the industry’s Canadian sales. With surging Rogue sales and strong Pathfinder volume, Nissan’s utility vehicles now make up 8.3% of the SUV/CUV market, a notable improvement on the 6.5% achieved at this stage last year. Rogue sales have jumped 81% in 2014. It currently ranks fifth among utility vehicles, behind the Escape, CR-V, Toyota RAV4, and Hyundai Santa Fe Sport.
Jeep, thanks mostly to the new Cherokee, is up 40% to 18,945 sales in 2014. Jeep set an all-time Canadian monthly sales record in April. Land Rover, the only premium brand to sell nothing but SUVs, is up 30% to 2169 units in 2014, outselling Lincoln in the process; outselling Jaguar and Mini combined.
But Nissan is the headline grabber. Nissan was Canada’s ninth-best-selling brand in April 2013 but moved up to the sixth position one year later with a 29% year-over-year jump, an increase bettered only by Maserati, Fiat, and Jeep. The Titan and Frontier continue to be mostly ignored trucks, but they are selling more often this year than in 2013. Nissan owns 7.1% of the commercial van category in 2014, up from 4.4% in early 2013. Moreover, Nissan passenger car sales are on the rise.
2013 ended with record Nissan brand sales. At the current pace, the Nissan division is on track for its first ever calendar year above 100,000 sales. Meanwhile, the brand’s premium Infiniti division is following up on a record 2013 with improved sales in the early part of 2013, as well.
As for the industry as a whole, 2013’s banner year for Canadian auto sales is set to lose its record-setting status. Early summer will tell the tale. The April-July period of 2013 generated nearly 40% of the calendar year’s sales. If Canadian automobile buyers don’t buy vehicles in especially large numbers over the next three months, the market won’t make up for such stagnation later on in 2014.