With Ford’s sales numbers now in, it’s official: October was another down month for auto sales in Canada.
That’s the fourth consecutive month of slipping sales. The record year that had seemed likely after a buoyant first half now looks a lot less certain.
A fire at Ford World Headquarters in Dearborn, Mich., shut down the automaker’s data centre and had prevented it from reporting its October sales along with the rest of the industry on Nov. 1. The delay in reporting left room for some hope that strong Ford sales might make up for a 5.4 per cent decline by the rest of the industry.
But when Ford’s numbers were released a day later, they showed a 2.6 per cent dip for the market leader. With the offshore brands reporting a combined 3.3 per cent decline, along with 8.8 and 11.4 per cent reversals for GM and FCA respectively, total industry sales sagged 5.1 per cent.
Year-to-date sales are still ahead of 2015’s record pace, but the YTD margin has narrowed to just 2.4 per cent.
Fewer sales days
One consolation: October’s numbers were based on 25 selling days this year, compared with 27 last October. That’s a 7.4 per cent difference. So the average daily selling rate this October was actually higher than last year.
What little growth did happen in October was mostly among the Europeans. The luxury brands, led by Jaguar Land Rover’s 20 per cent surge, offset weakness at Volkswagen, to achieve a combined two per cent uptick. Conversely the Japanese brands backslid 2.8 per cent and the Korean brands 10.1 per cent.
The only other automakers to report gains in October were Subaru (up a robust 9.7 per cent) and Honda Canada (2.1 per cent to an all-time record for October).
Subaru’s success was broad-based, with only the non-WRX Impreza failing to expand its sales. Much of Honda’s growth could be credited to the return of the Ridgeline pickup to the lineup (471 sold, vs. three a year ago), as well as sharply higher sales of the CR-V.
But Honda also managed to increase Civic sales in a market that has been turning away from compact cars to CUVs.
“The all-new 2017 Civic Hatchback was added to the Civic family and inserts a fresh dimension to an already robust car lineup,” said Dave Gardner, Senior Vice President of Operations. “The expanding 10th generation Civic roster brings new energy to the car side of our business, even as our trucks continue with steady gains.”
At the same time Toyota Canada bucked the trend by growing sales of its Corolla compact car 21 per cent while sales of its compact CUV offering, the RAV4, dipped four per cent. And GM did better in passenger-car sales (down only 0.8 per cent) than light trucks (down 11.4 per cent). That’s despite Buick posting 33 per cent higher sales of its CUV models.
A few bright spots
Bright spots for GM included 46 per cent higher Malibu and 66-per cent higher Volt sales, as well as a surprising 63 per cent surge for combined sales of its Corvette and Camaro sports cars.
Still, most automakers continued to see sales shift from passenger cars to light trucks. Notably, the Mazda CX-5 CUV outsold its Mazda3 stablemate for the third month in a row.
Automakers strove to accentuate the positive in their month-end sales reports. Underlining the strong luxury market, Lexus and Infiniti both reported October as their best month ever in Canada while Acura advanced 12.1 per cent.