While Canadian auto sales lost some steam in April — down 1.6 per cent — it certainly wasn’t any fault of GM Canada. For a second straight month the automaker led in total sales, after years in third-place wilderness.
This time, though, GM’s 16-per-cent surge wasn’t enough to keep overall industry sales in the black. Most other mainstream automakers retreated, and total industry sales dipped to 197,000 vehicles sold.
For perspective, however, last April was an exceptionally strong one; the first time ever that Canadian sales exceeded 200,000 units in a single month.
This April was another come-back month for Detroit. Although FCA sagged nine per cent, Ford held steady, up 0.2 per cent, to give the Detroit Three a combined 1.9-per-cent gain while the global automakers retreated 4.3 per cent. It was Ford’s best April since 1989 and included an April record for F-Series.
Close race to date
Year-to-date, Ford of Canada still tops the sales chart while GM Canada has moved into second. But FCA in third place is less than 1,600 sales behind Ford, so anything is possible as the year progresses.
Among the offshore-based automakers, the gainers included Honda (up 5.8 per cent), and Subaru (up 8.6 per cent for its best single month ever) plus all luxury brands except Acura, BMW and Land Rover.
Decliners included Mazda (minus 9.3 per cent), Mitsubishi (down 1.6 per cent), Nissan (fell 8.1 per cent), Toyota (minus 9.9 percent), Kia (down 6.5 per cent), and Volkswagen (fell 30 per cent). Hyundai sales effectively stood pat.
Shoppers continued to migrate from cars (down nine per cent) to trucks (up three per cent); combined sales of Detroit’s full-size pickup lines jumped 10.5 per cent and those three nameplates alone represented 18 per cent of all car and truck sales for the month.
Wagons rule at Volvo
One exception to the truck trend was at Volvo. The Swedish automaker sold 69 units of its new V90 wagon and almost tripled sales of the compact V60 wagon while combined sales of its three SUV nameplates fell 16 per cent.
Among the mass-market CUVs, Nissan Rogue was unable to maintain the momentum that unprecedentedly propelled it into the segment sales lead in March, and YTD it slipped to third behind Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4.
But despite the shift from compact cars to compact CUVs, it’s interesting to note that three compact cars have posted significant sales growth: the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla and Chevrolet Cruze. All three nameplates recently added new hatchback variants to their lineups.