By on June 5, 2017

2017 Honda Civic hatchback & 1977 Honda Civic hatchback, Image: Honda CanadaCanadian auto sales surged to record levels in May 2017, surpassing the previous monthly record from April of last year by an 8-percent margin and topping 200,000 units for just the second time in history.

You know it’s going well when, in a virulently anti-car market, passenger car sales increase, year-over-year. And in the fifth month of 2017, car sales did indeed improve, growing 3 percent beyond May 2016 levels.

You know it’s truly going well when, in a market that had already seen pickup truck market share climb to 20 percent, pickup truck sales jumped 38 percent to form 22 percent of the industry’s volume.

And you know it’s going exceptionally well when, in the span of just one month, the relatively small Canadian market purchases and leases 217,000 new vehicles at significantly higher prices than in the past.

According to Desrosiers Automotive Reports, Canada’s auto industry climbed above 200,000 sales for just the second time in history. Up 11 percent, year-over-year, Canadian sales improved by roughly 22,000 units despite outside-the-norm declines from BMW, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and Volkswagen.

While losses at a handful of its brands — including a 30-percent dive at Jeep and a 25-percent downturn at Chrysler — clearly diminished some of its potential, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles still says the automaker sold more vehicles in May than ever before. FCA volume was up 5 percent to 33,186 units.

The Ford Motor Company led all automakers with 34,475 sales, a 17-percent year-over-year improvement that drove the company to its best May since 1989. General Motors’ 36-percent improvement to 31,149 sales produced the best May for GM since 2009, including the best month in Cadillac’s history. Record sales were a common theme at numerous other auto brands as well, from Audi to Honda to Porsche.

That incentives are high is not news to Canadian car buyers. According to J.D. Power figures revealed by Automotive News Canada, the average new vehicle discount in May 2017 measured $5,800, 2 percent higher than in May 2016.

But the typical new vehicle transaction price grew by roughly $1,400 in May 2017, driving the average transaction price up above $37,000.

Selling more vehicles, and selling them at a higher price? Automakers will take that. Not only are Canadians optioning up existing vehicles, but redesigned vehicles are arriving in Canada with base prices that reflect the weakening Canadian dollar. The 2018 Honda Odyssey, for instance, sees its MSRP rise 12 percent.

At the heart of the market, where affordability is key, the Ford F-Series — Canada’s leading line of vehicles — reported its second-best month ever in May. Ram P/U sales reached record levels, nearly catching the No.1 Ford. The Honda Civic, Canada’s top-selling car, was up 5 percent to 8,616 sales, 11 percent of all car sales. The Ford Escape, a historic Canadian favorite, reclaimed its old position and led all SUVs/crossovers thanks to a 26-percent jump to 5,397 sales.

Meanwhile, May’s extraordinary Canadian auto sales achievements, particularly in the light of steady incentives and rising ATPs, have led forecasters to increase their annual forecasts. Canadian auto sales reached record levels in each of the last four calendar years. Through the first five months of 2017, Canadian auto sales are up 5 percent.

If that rate of growth continues, Canadians will, for the first time ever, buy and lease more than 2 million new vehicles in 2017.

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and and the founder and former editor of Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

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29 Comments on “Canadian Auto Sales More Numerous than Ever in May 2017; Canadians Paid More than Ever, Too...”

  • avatar

    Gah! You guys really need to put up a disclaimer: Some images may be disturbing to our viewers.

    Can’t you pixelate the Civic hatch, at least on the main page? That thing is obscene, and I still have an involuntary shudder of revulsion whenever I see one. Maybe cover it up by photoshopping an Aztek over it. That would be much better.

    • 0 avatar

      C’mon man, that old hatch hasn’t been on sale since disco still ruled.

      Kidding of course. The Civic hatch would be better with normal bumpers. Leave it to the Fast and Furious crowd to ugly it up with gaudy body kits. At least then those Civics bought by everyone else won’t make people want to gouge their eyes out.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      I assume you’re referring to the ghastly thing on the right, because I much prefer the little guy on the left.

      Seriously, the difference between them is stunning. It’s one of the most shocking images I’ve seen at TTAC in a while.

      I recently worked on someone’s 1991 Accord, but due to its modest size I thought it was a Civic.

      • 0 avatar

        Are we all talking about the gold Civic parked next to that ugly SUV?

      • 0 avatar

        That really is stunning. Worthy of a clickbaity “you wouldn’t believe what he looks like now”

        • 0 avatar

          The irony. A Full sized pickup grows a few inches and everyone says new pickups are MUCH bigger than old pickups. That same chorus line doesn’t utter a peep about that photo.

          • 0 avatar

            No one’s saying anything because nobody, I repeat nobody, wishes the Civic was the econobox size it was back in the 70s. Similarly, the problem with pickup trucks being “slightly” bigger is that parking spaces and streets are still the same size.

    • 0 avatar

      I also got a bit of design whiplash. At least put some intermediate generations between the two, or paint the new Civvy that same lovely gold-ish. Something!

  • avatar

    No, in fact it’s not going well for the average Canadian. Looking good, but no money. Everyone’s broke.

    Nearly half of Canadian homeowners lack proper emergency fund: survey

    Household debt hits fresh record, with Canadians owing $2 trillion by the end of 2016

    Drowning in debt is the new normal in Canada

    More than half of Canadians don’t have enough saved to cover unexpected costs: survey

    More Than Half Of Canadians Are $200 Away From Insolvency: Survey

    • 0 avatar

      So just like your neighbors to the south then.

    • 0 avatar

      Yup, Canadians are stupid with money, just like our neighbors. Also: the residents of our biggest city deluded themselves into believing that people care enough about living there to pay 7 figures for a crappy bungalow 30 miles from the downtown core.

    • 0 avatar


      There is a certain demography that buys this kind of article (pun intended).

      They once were able to buy a house. But out of greed and hoping that the price would pull back, they didn’t. Now they are priced out of the market forever and would only find refuge in reading this crap.

    • 0 avatar

      So true, we are and have been a country in denial.

      ADDING to the links above, look at the following article about the UK comparing the G7 countries in same $ terms in a number of categories for a comparison of USA and Canada. Specifically look at Real Wages and Median House Price Values. Its really an eye opener. Bubble bubble, toil and trouble.

  • avatar

    Canadian GDP growth in the first quarter was 3.7% which was triple the growth of the USA but as Cactuar has pointed out, our personal debt is an issue.

    • 0 avatar

      Debt is an issue only if equity is low, which is not the case. With the recent spike up in Vancouver and Toronto, many home owners gained huge amounts of equity and their financials are healthier than ever. Imagine someone who bought with 5% down pay last year and with a 30% price gain, he is at 35% equity now (to original price).

  • avatar

    Honda Civic
    A case study of simplicity morphing into ugly.

  • avatar

    If they made a Honda Civic station wagon I could probably live with it in black, but as it stands, that thing is hideous.

    • 0 avatar

      “If they made a Honda Civic station wagon I could probably live with it in black”

      Same. If they took the hatch platform and squared off the back like an Impreza… and got rid of the fake plastic nostrils and but pads on the bumpoers… I’d go for it.

  • avatar

    And ya know… makes you wonder what another 30 years will bring…

  • avatar

    It’s probably our record high house prices that made the home owners all feel rich enough to buy luxury cars. I stop counting the number of Maserati I see everyday now.

  • avatar

    Wow, talk about a coincidence – I saw a 2017 Civic today, and it made me think about how big the Civic is now; as big as the Accord used to be.

  • avatar

    Oddly enough, a Buick dealer is showing what seems to be the next impala – and it has Civic characteristics…

    • 0 avatar

      That’s horrendous. If I were a Buick dealer I’d be showing it off too.

      Because it’s the first reason in four years to pay the upcharge for the Lacrosse.

  • avatar

    Oh man, one of my first cars was a ’77 Civic in that color combination…Alluvial Gold with brown woven vinyl seats, fake wood on the dash, 4 speed manual trans and dealer-installed A/C that didn’t really work.

  • avatar

    I too, find the “yesterday to today” differences striking. However, if Honda – or any car company – tried to sell a version of the earlier Civic today, the same B&B who wax poetic for the good ol’ days would rip that car to shreds.
    Manual steering; Manual brakes; hand-crank windows? What were they thinking? And of course…WAAAYYY under-powered.
    I’m not going to even get into the raft of safety designs and features the earlier Civic does not possess.
    Yes, the 70s era Civic was a great car for its day…for its day. Doesn’t mean it could be a viable car today.
    Heck, the Model T was a great car…for its day.

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