TORONTO – Stronger sales of light trucks drove auto sales 2.4 per cent higher in February than in the same month a year ago.
Overall sales were 105,693 vehicles for the month, up from 103,226 in February 2013, according to data compiled by DesRosiers Automotive Consultants on Monday.
The gain came as light truck sales climbed 9.7 per cent to 64,579 from 58,867 in February 2013, while car sales fell 7.3 per cent to 41,114 from 44,359 a year ago.
DesRosiers said it was the third best February since 2007, trailing 2008 and 2012.
“Beneath the surface of this calm overall market number, there were a number of notable dynamics to be seen, however,” the consulting firm said in a report.
“Chrysler continued to build on its market lead, selling an impressive 18,350 units — more than 2,000 units ahead of second-placed Ford. Led by strong sales of the Wrangler, and all new Jeep Cherokee, Chrysler provided strong momentum to the truck side of the market.”
Strong truck sales helped Chrysler Canada post a 10 per cent increase compared with a year ago as it sold 18,522 vehicles last month.
The U.S. automaker said the sales compared with 16,832 in the same month last year and represented the 51st consecutive month of year-over-year sales growth.
The sales were driven by a 16 per cent gain in truck sales which came to 16,352 for the month, up from 14,038 in February 2013.
Chrysler car sales fell 22.3 per cent to 2,170 from 2,794.
“We are thrilled to see customers embracing our hottest-selling vehicles like the all-new Jeep Cherokee and our award-winning Ram trucks,” said Dave Buckingham, Chrysler Canada’s chief operating officer.
The gains at Chrysler came as Ford Motor Co. of Canada Ltd. said the overall number of vehicles it sold in February was down slightly from a year ago as a decline in car sales offset gains in pickup trucks and vans.
Ford Canada sold 16,234 vehicles last month, down from 16,301 in February last year. Car sales fell to 3,140 from 3,742, while truck sales increased to 13,094 from 12,559.
Ford said it was helped by an eight per cent increase in F-Series pickup truck sales — the best February on record — and a 21 per cent increase in its E-Series vans.
“This year, we have the most aggressive product launch schedule in our history, with 23 vehicle launches globally, 16 of which will be in North America,” Ford Canada president and chief executive Dianne Craig said.
“After the Canadian unveilings of the all-new 2015 Mustang (sports car) and F-150 (pickup truck), as well as announcing that the next generation Edge (compact car) will be built right here in Oakville, (Ont.), we are thrilled that the excitement surrounding our brand is resonating with our customers.”
DesRosiers put General Motors’ sales at 12,981 for the month down from 13,987 a year ago, a drop of 7.2 per cent.
Several Japanese automakers reported improved results.
Toyota Canada Inc. said sales of its three major brands totalled 10,942 vehicles in February, up from 10,775 a year ago.
The increase came as Toyota sales increased to 9,763 compared with 9,712 in February 2013, while Lexus sales grew to 980 from 817. Scion sales fell to 199 from 246 a year ago.
“Toyota has made a number of enhancements to the SUV and truck lineups over the past year and we are very pleased with the strong consumer response that continued in February,” said Larry Hutchinson, vice-president, sales, for Toyota Canada.
Meanwhile, Nissan said its sales, including its luxury Infiniti brand, were up 20.7 per cent from a year ago at 6,804 compared with 5,635 in February 2012.
Honda Canada said its overall sales were up 12.4 per cent to 8,796 from 7,823 a year ago.
Honda sales totalled 7,825 for the month, up from 6,873 a year ago, while Acura sales grew to 971 from 950 in February 2012.