TORONTO – Canadians shopping for a new truck helped drive auto sales up nearly nine per cent last month, according to sales figures compiled by DesRosiers Automotive Consultants on Wednesday.
Sales of light vehicles in Canada totalled 171,807 for April, up 8.9 per cent from 157,777 a year ago, breaking a four-month streak of lower year-over-year sales.
The bulk of the gain came from a 16.3 per cent increase in light truck sales which totalled 94,701 for the month, up from 81,409 in April 2012.
“The Canadian light vehicle market surged forward last month, thawing out after a slow winter,” DesRosiers said in an analysis that pointed out that the year-to-date sales were now ahead of 2012 for the first time.
The automotive consulting firm noted the big U.S. and Japanese brands enjoyed sales growth last month, while the Korean automakers and some prominent luxury brands failed to capitalize on the strong market.
“Both Korean brands have now lost roughly half a point of market share apiece on a year-to-date basis, bleeding some of the gains won from Japanese manufacturers over the last five years,” DesRosiers said.
Sales of its F-Series pickup trucks helped Ford Motor Co. of Canada claim the top spot for the month and the year-to date.
Ford says it sold 27,907 vehicles last month, up from 24,171 a year ago.
The gain came as the company’s overall truck sales gained 21 per cent to total 20,809, up from 17,267 from a year ago, and sales of its F-Series truck shot up 38 per cent. Ford car sales were up three per cent from a year ago.
“We’re pleased to see long-term growth across varied markets, from the Fusion to the F-150, which has resulted in sales leadership year-to-date through April,” Ford Canada president and chief executive Dianne Craig said.
Meanwhile, Chrysler Canada reported sales of 25,745, up from 24,540 in April 2012, also helped by truck sales.
Chrysler said Ram truck sales gained 31 per cent to total 8,020, up from 6,129, while overall truck sales increased 3.2 per cent to 19,865 vehicles. Passenger car sales gained 11 per cent to total 5,880, up from 5,283.
General Motors Canada joined Ford in reporting a double-digit increase in April sales, although it still came in third among the Detroit Three automakers.
GM Canada said the overall number of vehicles delivered by dealers rose 19 per cent to 25,071, its best April performance since 2009.
“We experienced strong sales in virtually all of our vehicle segments in April,” said Marc Comeau, GM of Canada’s vice-president of sales, service and marketing.
“We’re optimistic for the remainder of 2013 as we continue with our aggressive launch plans.”
Toyota Canada, helped by its truck sales, led the way among the Japanese automakers as it said it sold 20,087 vehicles in April, up 7.2 per cent from a year ago, including its Lexus and Scion brands.
Toyota sales totalled 18,008 for the month, a gain of six per cent as truck sales grew 20.3 per cent to 8,171 for the month. Lexus sold 1,520 vehicles, up 13.6 per cent form a year ago, including 848 sport-utility vehicles which were up 20.9 per cent. Scion sales were up 40 per cent at 561.
Meanwhile, Honda sales gained 17 per cent to finish the month at 13,257, up from 11,303 a year ago, while its Acura nameplate gained 39 per cent for 2,06 sales in the month, up from 1,497.
Mazda sales slipped to 6,682 from 7,049 in April 2012, while Nissan sales flew to 7,416 from 6,307.
Hyundai sales slipped to 13,517 from 14,301, while Kia sales fell to 7,581 from 8,010.