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!

  • Lou_BC I realized it wasn't EV's burning by the absence of the usual suspects.
  • Kwik_Shift A manual bug eye WRX wagon (2001-03) would interest me more.
  • El scotto Ferrari develops a way to put a virtual car in real time traffic? Will it be multiple virtual players in a possible infinite number of real drivers in real time situations?This will be one of the greatest things ever or a niche video game.
  • El scotto It's said that many military regulations are written in blood. Every ship's wheel or aircraft joystick has a human hand on it at all times when a ship or aircraft are under power. Tanks, APC's and other ground vehicles probably operate under the same rules. Even with those regulations accidents still happen. There is no such thing as an unmanned autopilot, ever. Someone has to be on the stick at all times.I do not think MB understands what a sue-happy nation the USA is. The 1st leased MB in a wreck while this Type 3 "Semi-Autonomous" driving, or whatever it is called, will result in an automatic lawsuit. Expect a class action lawsuit after the 1st personal lawsuit is filed. Yes, new MB owners can afford and ever are lawyers.Mercedes Benz; "The best wrecks or nothing!" Oh and has anyone noticed that Toyota/Lexus and Honda/Acura, the gray suit with white shirt and striped tie, automobile companies have stayed away from any autonomous driving nonsense?
  • Merc190 Very streamlined but not distinctive enough for a Mercedes. And besides, the streetcar of the early 20th century seems a far more efficient and effective method of people moving in essentially an autonomous manner. A motor car is meant to be driven with proper attention to what's important in every situation. To design it otherwise is idiotic and contradictory.