Cain's Segments, Canada Recap

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain

Booming utility vehicle sales have boosted Canada’s new vehicle market to unseen highs in the first half of 2014. Despite falling car sales and a slight decline in overall pickup truck volume, Canada’s auto industry is up nearly 3% through the first six months of 2014, an increase of some 25,000 units compared with the first half of 2013.

Canada’s top-selling utility, the Ford Escape, sells at least 50% more often than any of the next-best-selling SUVs or crossovers. The Escape and all its next-best-selling cohorts combined to generate 32.3% of the Canadian market’s first-half volume, an impressive leap from 29.6% just one year earlier. Excluding SUVs and crossovers, Canada’s auto industry would be down 1.2% this year, losing more than 7000 units, rather than up 2.8% as it is with those vehicles included in the equation.

Yet the story in the month of June, specifically, was quite a bit different. Sales of utility vehicles still increased, but by a much smaller margin, rising just 2% after year-to-date sales had jumped 15% through May. And while passenger car sales declined in December, January, February, March, April, and May, June car volume jumped by more than 3%.

Volvo, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Cadillac, Porsche, BMW, Lexus, Honda, and Audi reported the most significant percentage increases in car sales.

All was not sunshine and roses in June, certainly not in the passenger car market; certainly not for General Motors. Chrysler Canada says their overall car volume slid 27%. Lincoln car sales slid 44%. Acura’s cars were down 42%.

At General Motors, where Buick car sales fell 22% and Chevrolet cars were down 13%, total passenger car volume fell 12% and total GM Canada sales were down 15%.

Hyundai and Kia combined to outsell GM for the first time since September of last year, and this during a month in which Hyundai-Kia sales decreased 6%. Pickup truck sales at GM were down 17% in June. Particularly notable declines were reported by the Spark (-76%), Traverse (-48%), Equinox (-40%), Orlando (-39%), Enclave (-37%), LaCrosse (-36%), Suburban (-36%), Trax (-35%), Impala (-32%), and Acadia (-31%).

Is this downturn an omen for what we will soon see from General Motors in its home market, or just a one-month anomaly for a company that’s down only 2% through the first half of the year? June was certainly a bad month for GM in Canada, as sales travelled very far in the exact opposite direction from where the overall industry was headed. Industry-wide new vehicle sales climbed 2%, but if we ignore the losses at GM and exclude the automaker from the calculation, auto sales were up more than 5% last month.

First half notes: The Honda Civic is halfway to ending its 17th consecutive year as Canada’s best-selling car. Chrysler Canada’s minivan production has seen the Dodge Grand Caravan (Canada’s fifth-best-selling vehicle) and Chrysler Town & Country increase their market share in the category. Canada’s full-size pickup truck market has grown slightly as Ram’s pickup range has filled the void left by declining F-Series, Sierra, and Silverado sales. A 7.5% year-over-year increase has helped Mercedes-Benz to a 1060-unit lead over BMW in Canada’s premium brand sales race. Ford is easily Canada’s top-selling auto brand overall. With its five brands, the Chrysler Group (Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Jeep, Ram) has outsold the Ford Motor Company by 3522 units so far this year, although Ford led Chrysler in each of the second quarter’s three months.

Timothy Cain
Timothy Cain

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  • Lou_BC Lou_BC on Jul 21, 2014

    "And while passenger car sales declined in December, January, February, March, April, and May" Most of Canada like the USA was hit by an exceptionally harsh winter. SUV's and CUV's tend to be seen by consumers as being more robust with better ground clearance and 4 wheel drive. GM is in trouble - when has a new truck release EVER lost market share? The 2014 Sierra looks like a tarted up GMT900 Sierra and the 2014 GM looks like a warmed over GMT900 with a retro 80's look thrown in.

  • Whynotaztec Whynotaztec on Jul 21, 2014

    For the writers out there, please help me to describe those civic front bumper inserts. Are they offensive, contrived, afterthoughts, or is there some word that captures all this and then some?

  • MaintenanceCosts Last year, I rented a closely related Audi A3. The overwhelming impression was of cheap build quality, although the drive wasn't bad. It had ~45,000 miles and the sunroof sunshade and passenger side power window were already not working correctly. Lots of rattles, too.
  • Lou_BC As others have pointed out, some "in car" apps aren't good or you pay for upgrades. My truck did not come with navigation. It was an expensive option. There's a lame GM maps app that you need to subscribe to "in-car" data. The map does not give you navigation other than to tell you where restaurants and gas stations are located. I'd want Android auto since I already pay for the phone.
  • Theflyersfan Given so many standard nav systems aren't the best and updating could mean a dealer trip, and I stream all music, Android Auto is an absolute must. Wireless isn't necessary and some wireless chargers overheat the phone. And there are some hacks that let YouTube stream on the screen - excellent for listening to concerts.
  • Jeff I going to guess by the condition of the body and interior that there is little to no rust on the frame. Appears to be a very well maintained car.
  • MaintenanceCosts Would not buy a new daily car without it.