Canada In May 2013: Picking Up The Pace

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
canada in may 2013 picking up the pace

(Editor’s note: Despite being a close neighbor, ally, and NAFTA member, Canada usually receives short shrift when it comes to the counting of cars. TTAC is a prime offender. We cover sales in Europe, Japan, China, and of course America – but Canada? Our resident car counter Cain will now cover the Canadian market on a monthly basis. Any volunteers for Mexico?)

For the second time in what was predicted to be yet another year of growth for the Canadian auto industry, volume grew significantly in May 2013. January volume was down 2%. By the end of February, the market was off 2012’s pace by 3%. March’s decline wasn’t as bad, but through the first quarter, sales were still down 2%. After April’s 9% increase, auto sales in May reached their highest level in six years.

Ford, Canada’s leading manufacturer, sold more vehicles in May than in any month since 1997. Buoyed by record Ford F-Series sales, Ford Canada outsold Chrysler’s five brands by more than 3000 units.

Another truck sales record was set by the Ram Pickup, the second best-selling vehicle line in Canada. Just under three out of every ten Chrysler Group sales came from the Ram during Chrysler’s best sales month since 1971.

In all, 16 different brands, including soon-to-be-defunct Suzuki, posted year-over-year sales declines in May. The worst of May’s decreases were recorded by Smart, Lincoln, Mini, Volvo, Suzuki, and BMW, all of which have also sold fewer vehicles in the first five months of 2013 than during the same period a year earlier.

20 brands reported year-over-year sales increases. Boosted by the FR-S, which was responsible for 41% of Scion volume, Toyota’s sub-brand boasted of a 63% jump in Canadian sales in May, the best improvement of any brand. Cadillac, Jaguar, Porsche, Subaru, Acura, Honda, and Ram all reported gains better than 20%.

As the Canadian auto market grew 5.4% in May, passenger car sales made gains of just 2%. Car volume is down 1% through five months. Pickup truck sales grew 9% as 13 nameplates accounted for 17% of the industry’s volume. A year ago, 15 truck nameplates accounted for 16% of the market.

14% of the vehicles sold in the United States in May were pickup trucks. And while Ford, Chevrolet, GMC, and Ram attracted 83% of truck buyers in the U.S., that figure rose to 92% in Canada last month. May’s U.S. new vehicle market was nearly eight times the size of Canada’s, but America’s truck market was just six times the size of the Canadian truck market.

Excluding the Sprinter van, Mercedes-Benz was outsold by BMW for luxury brand leadership. The six-unit margin was quite clearly slim. So far this year, Mercedes-Benz is just 149 units ahead of BMW. Although they go without it in the U.S., Mercedes-Benz markets the B-Class in Canada. With 1255 sales through five months, the B-Class is responsible for a larger portion of Mercedes-Benz Canada’s volume than the E-Class and CLS-Class combined. The B250’s base price is $7400 lower than the base price of Benz’s C250.

While America’s five best-selling cars in May were midsize sedans, the best-selling midsize car in Canada ranked eighth among cars, as is normally the case. May was the fourth time in 2013 that the Hyundai Elantra topped the leaderboard as Canada’s best-selling car. Its year-to-date lead over the Honda Civic now stands at 332 units. The only brand which has sold more cars than Hyundai this year has been Toyota, and Toyota’s car lead is only 804-units strong. Combined, Hyundai and Kia’s cars have outsold the cars of Toyota, Lexus, and Scion by 13,472 units through five months.

Despite the Elantra’s leadership, Hyundai-Kia’s market share has fallen from 12.8% in the first five months of 2013 to 12.1% this year. Ford MoCo, Chrysler Canada, and General Motors have combined to grow their share of the Canadian market from 44.8% last year to 45.9% in 2013. As a trio, the automakers formerly known as the Big Three have sold 15,000 more vehicles in 2013 than they did in the first five months of 2012, helped in large part by 11,000 extra pickup truck sales.

Miss the full table for Canada? Here it is?

Independent analyst Timothy Cain is the founder and editor of His look at the important segments will be a permanent fixture at TTAC, along with a look at the market up North.

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2 of 10 comments
  • Kyree Kyree on Jun 11, 2013

    You wouldn't know that BMW was having any kind of sales decline by the way the company's prices have gone up. I suppose that's the way it should be...

  • Sooke Sooke on Jun 12, 2013

    "Here in Vancouver, BC gasoline is hovering around $1.45/litre… that folks works out to ‘$1.45 x 3.78 = $5.48/gallon’… $5.48 a metric gallon!!!!" BC has a carbon tax on gasoline - and it's going up again on July 1st. Happy Motoring.......Suckers!

  • Probert There's something wrong with that chart. The 9 month numbers for Tesla, in the chart, are closer to Tesla's Q3 numbers. They delivered 343,830 cars in q3 and YoY it is a 40% increase. They sold 363,830 but deliveries were slowed at the end of the quarter - no cars in inventory. For the past 9 months the total sold is 929,910 . So very good performance considering a major shutdown for about a month in China (Covid, factory revamp). Not sure if the chart is also inaccurate for other makers.
  • ToolGuy "...overall length grew only fractionally, from 187.6” in 1994 to 198.7” in 1995."Something very wrong with that sentence. I believe you just overstated the length by 11 inches.
  • ToolGuy There is no level of markup on the Jeep Wrangler which would not be justified or would make it any less desirable [perfectly inelastic demand, i.e., 'I want one']. Source: My 21-year-old daughter.
  • ToolGuy Strong performance from Fiat.
  • Inside Looking Out GM is like America, it does the right thing only after trying everything else.  As General Motors goes, so goes America.