By on April 15, 2014

March 2014’s Canadian auto sales results displayed a further willingness on the part of buyers to gradually forsake cars and turn to smaller crossovers.

Despite the increased strength of the Toyota Tundra and Ram Pickup range, pickup truck sales growth has stalled, and indeed reversed.

Year-over-year, minivans are getting back into the swing of things, but not to the extent that they’re selling as well as they did two years ago.

Although sales at BMW, the second-ranked luxury brand through the first quarter, are down slightly this year, overall premium brand auto sales are up 7% in a market that’s managed less than a 1% improvement over the last three months. BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi own 52% of the market for luxury auto brand vehicles. Mercedes-Benz has the advantage in Canada of not just selling a new entry-level sedan, the CLA, but also the more popular entry-level hatchback B-Class, which accounts for 16% of Mercedes-Benz passenger car sales.

Canadians are very nearly as willing to support traditional Detroit-based brands as their neighbours to the south – GM, FoMoCo, Chrysler/FCA own 45% of 2014’s U.S. market, 44% – but the same does not go for Cadillac and Lincoln. Cadillac is America’s fourth-ranked premium brand, but Cadillac slides to seventh in Canada. Lincoln ranks ninth in Canada, but in the U.S., where Lincoln volume is 19 times stronger, it moves up to eighth. Land Rover sales are 52% stronger than Lincoln sales in Canada, while Lincoln sales in the U.S. are 65% stronger than Land Rover sales. 1.6% of the new vehicles sold in the U.S. in the first quarter of 2014 were Cadillacs and Lincolns; only 0.8% in Canada.

Canadians still made Ford the top-selling auto brand in Q1 of 2014. Ford brand sales tumbled 11% in March and 8% in Q1, however, as first quarter car sales slid 22% and the F-Series, approaching replacement, fell 6%. (YOY, Ford’s share of a pickup truck market that’s down 2.5% has fallen from 38% to 37%.) The Fusion is currently Canada’s second-best-selling midsize car after leading the category in calendar year 2013. In fact, the Mustang is the only Ford car product to record a year-over-year sales increase in Q1.

As a whole, Ford Canada was outsold by the Chrysler family of brands in each of the last three months. (GM Canada outsold Ford/Lincoln in December.) Ford had become the usual leader, but even with the Chrysler Group’s total lack of car success in 2014, Dodge/Ram/Jeep/Chrysler/Fiat have opened up a 7726-unit lead through three months. Chrysler Canada says their car sales are down 21% this year. Even if we exclude the 200 and Avenger (about to be replaced and defunct, respectively) from the equation, the company’s car sales were down 1%.

But the Ram truck lineup, Dodge’s Grand Caravan, and the Jeep brand currently account for seven out of every ten Chrysler Canada sales, and the volume achieved by that group is up 12% in 2014. Minivan sales in Q1, 65% of which came from the Grand Caravan and Town & Country, are up 7%.

Cars are still capable of succeeding in the Canadian auto market. Sales of the best-selling Civic, Canada’s third-best-selling vehicle overall, are up 10% this year. Yet cars are currently responsible for less than 41% of the industry’s volume, and the decline can be spotted in the Civic’s closest rival, the Hyundai Elantra, which is down 9%. Hyundai and Kia, which combine to sell more passenger cars in Canada than any other automotive conglomerate by far, have seen their car sales slide 9%.

As a symbol of the tussle between traditional passenger cars and newfangled crossovers, consider the BMW 3-Series and Audi Q5. No other premium brand products have sold as often as this pair. They’re tied for the lead as Canada’s top-selling luxury brand automobiles through three months. With 1664 sales each, they’re not uncommon: only 53 nameplates have generated greater volume in early 2014.

The Q5 is playing on the winning side. 55% of vehicles sold in Canada in 2014 by Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, Cadillac, Lincoln, and their luxury rivals have been SUVs or crossovers of one kind or another.

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33 Comments on “Cain’s Segments: Canada Recap April 2014...”

  • avatar

    And this surprises …. Who ?

    Simple fact . Compact Crossovers and especially premium compact Crossovers are the only growth segment Worldwide currently when it comes to new car automotive sales . Period !

    H*ll … even the curmudgeonly French are switching in droves to the things

    Why ? Because unlike the Style over Substance wagons/estates [ other than Subarus ] that nobody worldwide wants anymore …

    Crossovers ….. work !

    And …. the fact that they [ EU UK etc ] simply wanna be a whole lot more … like us [ US ] At least when it comes to cars that is

    • 0 avatar

      @ gtrslngr.. curmudgeonly French..? If you are referring to Canada, we have two official languages. One of them is French.

      We are all Canadians.

    • 0 avatar

      Huh? Wagons are style over substance? Say what? Most scared white people buy crossovers because they supposedly look better than wagons.

      Not to mention, utility wise, crossovers are easier to get in and out of as well as deal with child seats but that’s about it, they carry less stuff than a wagon.

      • 0 avatar

        “Most scared white people buy crossovers because they supposedly look better than wagons.”

        Um… once more? In English?

      • 0 avatar

        What’s the connection between “scared white people” and how good a vehicle looks?

      • 0 avatar

        Scared white people?

        I forgot that it’s politically correct to demean one specific race (though white isn’t a race).

        Maybe I’m misjudging you. What are the non-scared white people buying? How about the scared non-white people?

        • 0 avatar

          It’s politically correct to poke fun at your own race, I’m the whitest guy you’ve ever seen. And yes, the vast majority of the demand for raised wagons comes from white, middle to upper middle class folk who are increasingly scared of their own shadow and want to feel “big”. Women in particular.

    • 0 avatar

      I suspect gtrslngr is a fake account created by Derek and Jack to supplement their income. Any moment now they will offer to ban this fictitious person if everyone sends them $20. A brilliant plan. I would also be the first to send them a check.

  • avatar

    I’m still impressed with the JOURNEY’s sales there.

    I’m so disappointed Chrysler/Fiat isn’t still making the MAGNUM.

    A Magnum with AWD and the Pentastar/HEMI would be so much better than the Journey.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    The Journey is the value leader, specially the 4 cyl version, lots of space for the price of a compact car, the one in my family has been trouble free except for the brake issue which now seems to be resolved.

  • avatar

    The sales follows quality and value. Good to see the Escape doing so well in Canada.

    • 0 avatar

      One can also assume that’s why the Honda Civic is Canada’s third best-selling vehicle, and the best-selling passenger car, through March.

      Then again, both the Civic and the Escape are great vehicles for their intended purpose. So their success shouldn’t come as a surprise in either Canada or the U.S.

      • 0 avatar

        No the Civic is #3 behind the Ram Pickup, the Escape while the best selling CUV is all the way down at #7 behind the Caravan, Elantra and Corolla in that order.

        The Canadian market is definitely different than the US as the Accord is down at 24, the Fusion at 25 and the Camry at 29 while the Altima is all the way down at 46. If you are only talking cars they are 9, 10, 13 and 17. GMC pickups also outsell the Chevy version in Canada

        • 0 avatar

          What I posted is correct. I said that the Civic is Canada’s third best-selling vehicle, but number-one selling PASSENGER CAR.

          Is anyone going to deny that either the Civic or the Escape has been a success in the Canadian market?

          • 0 avatar

            Yes, Canadians love their Civics! $1.40/litre gas has something to do with that but they are great little bars besides.

            It’s getting more and more difficult to justify driving a truck up her…but I’m still gonna!

          • 0 avatar

            Oh hell no. Only a fool would say the Civic and Escape was not a success; you can’t really drive anywhere in Ottawa without seeing many, many of these (and Mazda 3s).

            That said, I’ve seen very, very few of the new Escapes (the ones that look like a raised Focus). Still plenty of the previous generation kicking (the Mazda Tribute ones).

          • 0 avatar

            Most Canadians live within 100km of the USA border and that is where all of the big cities are. (Yes there are a few exceptions). It makes sense that large pickups have stagnated. Increasing oil prices have that affect on those who don’t really need a truck. I definitely feel the difference in the GVRD in my F150 as opposed to my wife’s Sienna. If one heads waaay north then it is the other way around. (Way north isn’t Whistler or Hope;) )
            Small CUV’s are more versatile than cars of the same size. It makes sense that they are flourishing.
            Chrysler stats make sense. I see Ram trucks and Grand Caravan’s all over the place.

          • 0 avatar

            Your post reads that the Escape was the the reason that the Civic was #3 overall.

  • avatar

    Magnum, Poor visibility and just too damn boat like for big sales. I rented one in Peoria 7 years ago. It was very tight and went like stink.

  • avatar

    It must be cold in Canada if they buy so many of a CUV that leads the segment only in engine fires and destroying the quality statistics of its manufacturer.

  • avatar

    The new Escape is problem ridden from what I hear. It’s a shame because a lot of the brand loyalty comes from the previous generation. They finally got it right around 2007. I remember taking a cab once in Cowtown and the cabbie swore by the Escape Hybrid. Quite a lot of miles on it too. Still quiet and solid.

    I’d buy the previous gen Escape. This gen needs a few more years in the field to refine before I consider it as good as the previous gen.

    • 0 avatar

      I know two people who bought new model Escapes. They both rave about how much they love them. One was a Mazda 3 conquest, the other a Corolla conquest. I make sure to rent Escapes when they are available and would recommend them to anyone. One other recommendation, practice how to use the infotainment in a parking lot. And not while driving.

  • avatar

    @hifi – “practice how to use the infotainment in a parking lot”

    My wife isn’t into that sort of thing any more.

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