By on April 3, 2020

Mirroring its southern neighbor, Canadian auto sales took a dive last month as measures designed to slow the spread of COVID-19 went into effect across the country. First-quarter volume, as a result, fell roughly 20 percent across the industry, with March’s decline pegged at 48 percent by DesRosiers Automotive Consultants (via Bloomberg).

Still, amid all the gloom were statistical bright spots.

First off, due to incredibly low volume and the timing of orders, sales of the loftiest automotive products in the land actually rose in Q1 2020. Marques like McLaren, Lamborghini, Bentley, and Rolls-Royce posted quarterly gains. It’s likely only a vanishingly small amount of their combined volume hit sales sheets in the last half of March, resulting in the skewed results.

January and February were seen as fairly healthy sales months on both sides of the border.

According to figures from the Automotive News Data Center, the Detroit Three fared better in the U.S. than in Canada last quarter. While the Fiat Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors posted Q1 declines of 10.9 percent, 12.5 percent, and 7.1 percent, respectively, in the U.S., the Canadian tally revealed drops of 18.9, 13.8, and 12.8 percent, respectively.

Product timing and heightened demand for pickup trucks versus all other segments meant some mainstream product fared better north of the border. Ram volume was nearly flat (a 0.7-percent loss), thanks to a 50-percent increase in Heavy Duty volume over the quarter. Sales of the soon-to-die Dodge Grand Caravan rose 2 percent. Brand-wise, Jeep and Chrysler fared the worst, with drops of 35 and 55 percent, respectively.

Image: Ford

At Ford, Explorer, Expedition, and Super Duty sales all rose significantly over Q1 2019, the result of new product and higher volumes in the first two months of the year. The Ranger was also the beneficiary of this phenomenon. Bright spots span the pricing ladder at GM, with such models as the Chevrolet Trax and Corvette, Silverado and GMC Sierra all posting quarterly gains. The Chevy Bolt and new-for-2019 Blazer appear on that list, too, as does the Buick Envision.

Leading the volume-loss pack among import brands was Infiniti, whose sales fell more than 50 percent in Q1 2020. If you’ve paid attention to the brand’s trajectory in the U.S., you’ll know that coronavirus can’t take the blame for the entirety of that loss. Other Japanese brands, including Honda, Nissan, and Acura, recorded a volume loss of greater than 30 percent.

Looking to Europe, BMW Group brands sank a combined 30 percent last quarter, while Volvo came close with a 29-percent drop.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler]

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