U.S. Auto Industry Slowdown, Eh? Canadian Auto Sales on Track for Fifth Consecutive Record Year After Big July

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain

Canadian auto sales jumped 5 percent in July 2017, a big jump for an industry that has now posted growth in six of 2017’s first seven months.

Year-to-date, sales are well ahead of 2016’s pace: 58,000 units greater than in the first seven months of 2017. In fact, on a quest for the Canada’s first ever year of more than 2,000,000 sales, the industry would now need a genuine downturn in 2017’s final five months to avoid a hugely successful year.

More proof that the Canadian auto industry’s on a hot streak? Even passenger car sales are… well, they’re only down slightly.

After reporting 5-percent growth in 2017’s first seven months, year-over-year, Canadian auto sales would now need to decline by roughly 8,000 units between August and December for auto sales to fall short of the 2-million marker. Canadians purchased and leased nearly 1.95 million new vehicles in a record 2016, 3-percent up on the prior record from 2015.

Yet while passenger car sales took a 7-percent hit in the 2016 calendar year, the rate of decline is now slowing as car volume plateaus. The sector now earns slightly less than one-third of the market, having lost 2 percent of its volume in the first seven months of 2017 despite surging bestsellers. The Honda Civic, which will make 2017 its 20th consecutive year as Canada’s top-selling car, is on track for its best year ever. The second-ranked Toyota Corolla sedan is up 8 percent compared with 2016.

While the lack of plunging car sales has caused less harm to the Canadian auto industry’s overall totals than expected, the real boost to total volume is obviously from trucks and SUVs/crossovers.

Pickup truck sales jumped 14 percent in the January-July period and now account for 21 percent of the overall market. Ford is on track for significantly more than 150,000 F-Series sales, having only crested the 100,000-sale barrier for the first time in 2012. FCA’s Ram truck line and GM’s full-size twins are all set for best-ever years, as well.

Then there’s a 7-percent year-to-date increase in sales of SUVs/crossovers, which have grown their share of the market to 40 percent in 2017. Led by the Canadian-made Toyota RAV4 and its modest 2-percent improvement, and the Canadian-made Honda CR-V and its substantial 12-percent increase, 19 of the 25 top-selling utility vehicles in Canada are selling more often this year than last.

Not every auto brand is coming up roses in 2017. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has fallen marginally because of drops at Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep. Hyundai volume is down 9 percent this year. Volkswagen has reported major improvements in the summer but remains down 3 percent compared with last year’s four-year low.

Ford Motor Company, which generates just under half of its Canadian sales with F-Series trucks, is Canada’s top-selling manufacturer by a margin of 11,590 sales over General Motors. Ford is also the top-selling brand. No volume brand is growing faster than GMC, up 19 percent this year. On the other end of the ledger, Jeep’s 16-percent decline is the harshest drop.

Auto BrandJuly 2017July 2016% Change2017 YTD2016 YTD% ChangeFord26,92729,007-7.2%182,935174,8594.6%Toyota16,94316,3893.4%119,062119,360-0.2%Honda16,84315,21410.7%106,98195,53912.0%Chevrolet14,51912,46816.5%100,28185,86116.8%Nissan11,80710,64111.0%80,60374,4638.2%Hyundai12,44314,600-14.8%79,32287,225-9.1%Ram7,5148,323-9.7%68,50559,78314.6%GMC8,4256,66926.3%57,57748,51818.7%Dodge5,5697,748-28.1%50,29952,273-3.8%Jeep9,8427,42932.5%44,31752,926-16.3%Kia7,5066,52715.0%44,24042,8453.3%Mazda6,5915,90911.5%43,09840,2007.2%Volkswagen7,8235,67537.9%36,18937,397-3.2%Subaru4,4544,2105.8%30,88728,1259.8%Mercedes-Benz4,2973,88110.7%30,58727,36811.8%BMW2,9533,007-1.8%21,78321,6930.4%Audi3,1792,45129.7%21,38318,06518.4%Lexus2,0181,8837.2%14,18212,32215.1%Mitsubishi2,0781,60029.9%13,36813,1381.8%Acura1,7011,6552.8%11,06610,8611.9%Buick1,6851,24934.9%10,86010,7511.0%Chrysler356912-61.0%9,65310,640-9.3%Cadillac1,22386940.7%7,6306,32720.6%Infiniti9819068.3%7,1216,5858.1%Land Rover73466410.5%5,2695,406-2.5%Lincoln723764-5.4%5,0034,7545.2%Porsche7707384.3%4,5794,04113.3%Mini587640-8.3%3,8993,8311.8%Volvo6125903.7%3,8113,7072.8%Jaguar37033111.8%2,8271,371106%Fiat104250-58.4%1,9631,44236.1%Maserati844586.7%826313164%Alfa Romeo8271,071%30444591%Genesis55——273——Smart3653-32.1%219653-66.5%———————Industry Total †181,834 173,304 4.9% 1,220,9021,162,6865.0%

Source: Global Automakers Of Canada

[Image: Honda, Toyota]

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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  • Mikey Mikey on Aug 04, 2017

    " It baffles me how Volvo doesn't sell ten times as many cars in Canada " First off, despite the intentions of many, we"re more American than we are Northern Europeans. Secondly, Volvo peaked here in the 70's and never recovered. Then there is the fact that dealers are few, and far between.

    • TDIandThen.... TDIandThen.... on Aug 05, 2017

      The real problem for me is how much more expensive the Volvo is compared to Subaru for function, and compared to BMW for luxury interiors. BMW does that bargain-basement lease thing and so Bimmers are kind of common, where Volvo don't have much brand here and are more expensive on a monthly payment or sometimes competitive. Add to that the related fact that there is no amazing entry-level model here now...Volvo is very niche. Some used ones are good deals; I say all this as someone who really wanted / wants a Volvo, I'm going to wind up in a Golf R or VW all-trak for less money than the base V60. Sadly.

  • DeadWeight DeadWeight on Aug 04, 2017

    Canadians, Australians, the British and Kiwis are absolute debt'slaves, even models than Americans, which is a massive accomplishment (though it's also possible that the far more heterogeneous makeup of American ethic/racial society puts additional limits on ability to dive as deeply into debt as may be the case in the far more homogeneous ethnic/racial societies of Canada, Australia, the UK and New Zealand). During tne next financial/economic downturn, Canada, Australia, the UK and New Zealand will see sharper declines in bond, real estate and equities prices than in the US.

  • Akear I just wish GM could produce a vehicle 80% as good as the crown.I sat in a Trax at a Chevrolet dealership this weekend and was shocked how cheap it felt. GM does not care.GM - what a disgrace!
  • Akear I like the grill treatment of all Mitsubishi products. It is an interesting and original design.
  • El scotto Some rambling thoughts; Elon is pulling billions in cash out of Tesla. Tesla will be around, Elon won't let them fail. Mitsubishi is an odd place, you can't sell vehicles if you don't have dealers. Out of all the "Automalls" near you, how many have a Mitsubishi dealership? The Agnellis owned Fiat, Fiat got sold to Stellantis. The Agnellis control Exor. How much of Stellantis does Exor own? I really should be drinking beer with Billy Ford and talking Big-10 trash with him. Ford and Lucid should work out a partnership. You want an electric Lincoln? Have Lucid build it and slap a Lincoln name plate on it. BTW, kick Farley's butt to the curb.
  • Akear US contentChevrolet Trax - 5%Honda Pilot - 52%What a disgrace!I glad Consumer Reports panned the Trax, and put it on its avoid list.
  • Akear This is similar to what lazy GM and Ford used to do.