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

canadian auto sales more numerous than ever in may 2017 canadians paid more than

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.

  • Sgeffe Bronco looks with JLR “reliability!”What’s not to like?!
  • FreedMike Back in the '70s, the one thing keeping consumers from buying more Datsuns was styling - these guys were bringing over some of the ugliest product imaginable. Remember the F10? As hard as I try to blot that rolling aberration from my memory, it comes back. So the name change to Nissan made sense, and happened right as they started bringing over good-looking product (like the Maxima that will be featured in this series). They made a pretty clean break.
  • Flowerplough Liability - Autonomous vehicles must be programmed to make life-ending decisions, and who wants to risk that? Hit the moose or dive into the steep grassy ditch? Ram the sudden pile up that is occurring mere feet in front of the bumper or scan the oncoming lane and swing left? Ram the rogue machine that suddenly swung into my lane, head on, or hop up onto the sidewalk and maybe bump a pedestrian? With no driver involved, Ford/Volkswagen or GM or whomever will bear full responsibility and, in America, be ambulance-chaser sued into bankruptcy and extinction in well under a decade. Or maybe the yuge corporations will get special, good-faith, immunity laws, nation-wide? Yeah, that's the ticket.
  • FreedMike It's not that consumers wouldn't want this tech in theory - I think they would. Honestly, the idea of a car that can take over the truly tedious driving stuff that drives me bonkers - like sitting in traffic - appeals to me. But there's no way I'd put my property and my life in the hands of tech that's clearly not ready for prime time, and neither would the majority of other drivers. If they want this tech to sell, they need to get it right.
  • TitaniumZ Of course they are starting to "sour" on the idea. That's what happens when cars start to drive better than people. Humanpilots mostly suck and make bad decisions.
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