July 2014’s year-over-year Canadian auto sales growth was more significant than the monthly growth rate achieved at any time in the last two years, a period which included record annual sales in 2013.
Not since May 2012, when auto sales jumped 18%, has this rate of growth during a record-setting period been anything much more than gradual. Yet with 18,000 more July sales in 2014 than in 2013 – an 11% improvement – the gradual rate of change suddenly switched to a rapid rate of expansion.
A first half of decline in the pickup truck sector turned into a July in which pickup sales rose by more than 5000 units, a 20% year-over-year increase. Sales of the Ford F-Series, Canada’s best-selling vehicle line, jumped 24%. Chevrolet Silverado sales shot up to their highest level since June 2010; GMC Sierra sales climbed above 5000 units for the first time since June 2011. Pickup trucks generated 18.6% of the overall industry’s July volume.
Although the rate of growth in the luxury utility vehicle sector didn’t actually match the overall SUV/crossover category’s ascent throughout the first half of 2014, the smaller premium subset took off in July. Total SUV/crossover sales jumped 18% in July, but Audi Q5-class utilities, helped by 437 Lincoln MKC and Porsche Macan sales and a 344-unit uptick from BMW’s three smallest X models, were up 30%.
The Ford Escape is Canada’s most popular utility vehicle. In July, the Escape sold 58% more often than the next-best-selling Honda CR-V. The Ford brand sold 5612 passenger cars last month and 5078 Escapes.
Honda’s Civic, which for the second time in three months and the second time in the last 40 months sold more than 7000 copies, accounted for 9% of all new passenger cars sold in Canada in July 2014. Canadian new car sales are down nearly 2% in 2014, but July volume rose 6%, a 4300-unit increase, thanks in large part to almost 1000 extra Civic sales. (Like the Civic, the Toyota Camry is the traditional top-selling car in America, but it accounts for a less-dominant 5.5% of America’s car market in 2014.)
Together, the Canadian divisions of the Ford Motor Company, General Motors, and Chrysler Group/FCA accounted for 46% of the new vehicles sold in Canada in July, 64% of the “light truck” volume, and just 21% of new car sales. Unlike the three Chrysler Group brands and Ford and Lincoln, however, GM car volume was up sharply in July, a 21% improvement. These car improvements were essential to GM’s overall 25% increase in July, a massive change from a first half in which GM volume slid 2%.
Both in July and on year-to-date terms, GM remains the third-largest auto seller in Canada. Chrysler’s five brands have combined for 174,599 sales through the first seven months of 2014; Ford and Lincoln another 171,981. The Ford Motor Company has been Canada’s top-selling manufacturer in each of the last four months.