Canadian Auto Sales More Numerous Than Ever in May 2017; Canadians Paid More Than Ever, Too

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain

Canadian 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 Autofocus.ca and the founder and former editor of GoodCarBadCar.net. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

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  • CincyDavid CincyDavid on Jun 06, 2017

    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.

  • Blackcloud_9 Blackcloud_9 on Jun 06, 2017

    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.

  • ToolGuy First picture: I realize that opinions vary on the height of modern trucks, but that entry door on the building is 80 inches tall and hits just below the headlights. Does anyone really believe this is reasonable?Second picture: I do not believe that is a good parking spot to be able to access the bed storage. More specifically, how do you plan to unload topsoil with the truck parked like that? Maybe you kids are taller than me.
  • ToolGuy The other day I attempted to check the engine oil in one of my old embarrassing vehicles and I guess the red shop towel I used wasn't genuine Snap-on (lots of counterfeits floating around) plus my driveway isn't completely level and long story short, the engine seized 3 minutes later.No more used cars for me, and nothing but dealer service from here on in (the journalists were right).
  • Doughboy Wow, Merc knocks it out of the park with their naming convention… again. /s
  • Doughboy I’ve seen car bras before, but never car beards. ZZ Top would be proud.
  • Bkojote Allright, actual person who knows trucks here, the article gets it a bit wrong.First off, the Maverick is not at all comparable to a Tacoma just because they're both Hybrids. Or lemme be blunt, the butch-est non-hybrid Maverick Tremor is suitable for 2/10 difficulty trails, a Trailhunter is for about 5/10 or maybe 6/10, just about the upper end of any stock vehicle you're buying from the factory. Aside from a Sasquatch Bronco or Rubicon Jeep Wrangler you're looking at something you're towing back if you want more capability (or perhaps something you /wish/ you were towing back.)Now, where the real world difference should play out is on the trail, where a lot of low speed crawling usually saps efficiency, especially when loaded to the gills. Real world MPG from a 4Runner is about 12-13mpg, So if this loaded-with-overlander-catalog Trailhunter is still pulling in the 20's - or even 18-19, that's a massive improvement.
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