It was another record March for auto sales in Canada last month as the total of 187,540 cars and light trucks sold was seven per cent higher than March 2016, which itself was a record-setter.
First-quarter sales now stand 4.5 per cent ahead of last year’s total.
It was almost like the good old days last month for GM Canada as the automaker's sales surged to the top of the charts and paced the industry to the new March record.
While FCA and Ford both stagnated with 0.2-per cent gains, GM’s 22.9-per cent surge was enough to help Detroit (up 7.4 per cent) claw back a little lost ground from the global automakers (+6.1 per cent).
In another respect, however, March was thoroughly contemporary as light trucks (up 11 per cent) outperformed passenger cars (down one per cent) and scored 67 per cent of the market.
There were, however, some stand-out exceptions to the truck trend. Big gains were posted by mainstream compact cars such as the Civic (up 37 per cent), Toyota Corolla (32 per cent) and Mazda3 (22 per cent), each of which outperformed their respective compact CUV siblings. At Mazda, total car sales surged 32 per cent while light trucks dipped 1.3 per cent.
Then again, another compact CUV, the Nissan Rogue, spiked 63 percent – enough to make it the segment’s top seller for the month and (by a sliver) year-to-date.
Meanwhile GM’s blockbuster month included a 35-per-cent leap in sales of its Silverado/Sierra large pickups, 59-per-cent higher compact CUV sales (paced by Chevrolet Equinox), and a 27-per-cent increase for Chevrolet Cruze (another compact car).
Grand Caravan in demand
FCA’s stand-pat month was despite a 47-per-cent hike in Grand Caravan sales and 40-per-cent higher Dodge Journey sales; what hurt Chrysler was a 27-per-cent decline for Jeep.
Conversely Ford was strong on SUV sales (including a March record for Escape and a doubling of Expedition sales) but its total was stalled by a 20-per-cent slide on the car side.
The biggest increase of all was posted by Jaguar, up 227 per cent on the back of new nameplates, the XE sedan and especially the F-Pace crossover. The latter’s 357 sales in March were almost as much as all Jaguar’s car nameplates combined.
Not all automakers benefited from spring fever, however. Declines were posted by Hyundai, Mitsubishi and Smart.