Canadian auto sales dipped 1.1 per cent in November from the same month in 2016 but could still hit the two million milestone for the first time, according to data compiled by the Automotive News Data Center in Detroit.
Automakers delivered 159,072 vehicles during the month, bringing the total number of units sold to 1.92 million so far this year, up five per cent compared with the first 11 months of 2016 when automakers sold 1.83 million.
On a year-to-date basis, trucks have accounted for more than two-thirds of all the vehicles sold in Canada this year.
Car sales fell 10 per cent to 44,061 for the month compared with 48,945 in November 2016, according to sales figures compiled by DesRosiers Automotive Consultants. Light truck sales increased to 114,592 from 111,628.
“The crossover utility craze remains in full force,” Scotiabank Economics said in a statement.
Selling two million vehicles in a year, which would be a new annual sales record, is well within reach.
"The average sales total for November and December for the last ten years is just a little under 243,000 units...to be fair, nothing over the last few years has been average, when it comes to sales results," Brian Murphy, vice president of research and editorial at Canadian Black Book said, commenting to Reuters separately from the DesRosiers report on Canadian auto industry sales.
The top three automakers in Canada all reported a drop in November total sales.
On Friday, General Motors Co reported a 17.2 per cent decline, while Ford reported a 2.8 per cent drop in total sales for the month. Ford was the top selling automaker for November in Canada.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles on Monday reported it sold 19,054 vehicles for the month, a 7.8 per cent drop from a year earlier.
RAM SALES STRONG
If not for the Ram brand, FCA Canada’s decline would have been much steeper. Ram brand and Ram pickups continued to truck in record sales for the automaker. The brand saw its sales grow to 7,117 in November, up from 6,914 units and good for an increase of three per cent.
But the Jeep, Dodge and Chrysler brands were all down. Chrysler sales were down 44 per cent to just 566 vehicles.
While total Jeep sales were down five per cent, sales of the Wrangler were up 65 per cent to 1,797 vehicles, and Grand Cherokee sales were up 26 per cent to 1,632 units.
Cherokee sales were down 37 per cent to 1,832.
FORD STILL LEADS
Meanwhile, Ford Canada widened its gap in the race to become the nation's top auto seller in 2017, even though both it and current runner-up General Motors Canada saw their sales paces slow in November.
Ford’s total sales fell 2.8 per cent to 23,788 units while GM’s sales were off 17.2 per cent to 23,612 vehicles when compared to the same month a year ago.
Ford has sold 7,923 more vehicles than GM through the first 11 months of 2017.
Ford sales of 290,948 vehicles through Nov. 30 were up 2.2 per cent over the same time last year. GM has sold 283,025 units, up 13.6 per cent.
The Ford F series had its best November on record with sales up 11 per cent to 12,548 units. Edge sales increased 12 per cent to 1,538 units, its highest November total on record.
“The SUV segment continues to grow as more and more consumers favour the functionality and technology SUVs offer,” Ford Canada CEO Mark Buzzell said in a statement.
GM SAYS NOVEMBER 'AN ANOMALY'
Not even truck sales could salvage GM's numbers.
The sudden sales crash comes after GM posted total sales gains of greater than 20 per cent in two of the previous three months.
GM sold 23,612 total vehicles during November's 26 sales days, which is the same number of sales days as the previous year.
Of that total, GM said 5,948 were fleet deliveries.
GM Canada spokeswoman Jennifer Wright called the decline "an anomaly" and attributed the decrease not to sluggish sales this year, but to a record number of sales in November 2016 when the automaker offered a number of incentives.
"We've already sold more vehicles year to date [in 2017] than we did in all of 2016," she said.
Wright said despite the 17.2 per cent drop, the 23,612 vehicles GM sold this November was still the second highest November total in the last decade.
Car and truck sales were both down almost equally by percentage this November. GM sold 4,720 cars, down 18.2 per cent, and 18,892 trucks, down 17 per cent, even though Canada's market continues to shift toward trucks and away from cars.
Nine years ago, cars represented 54 per cent of Canada’s new-vehicle market. Cars accounted for 32 per cent of the Canadian new-vehicle market through October.
With 283,025 total vehicles sold through the first 11 months of 2017, GM Canada remains well ahead of its sales total through the same month of 2016 with 249,212 vehicles. Year to date, sales are up 13.6 per cent. Truck sales alone are up 21 per cent, more than offsetting a 7.6 per cent decline in car sales.
Toyota Canada's total November sales were up 2.9 per cent to 16,963 vehicles due to Canada's appetite for light trucks and luxury vehicles.
Toyota's truck sales were up 5.9 per cent to 9,401 vehicles with sales of the Sienna minivan up 25.8 per cent and the Highlander up 11.3 per cent.
The automaker's Lexus brand saw its sales increase 1.9 per cent to 1,911 units when compared with November 2016.
When it comes to cars, Toyota managed to at least keep Canadians interested. Its Toyota brand car sales were down 1.5 per cent to 5,651 units. The decrease would have been epic if not for Camry sales surging 72.5 per cent to 1,425 units. The Yaris and 86 sports car (63 sold in November) were the only other two cars to post gains.
SUBARU UP ON CROSSTREK
Subaru Canada sold 4,767 vehicles in November, up eight per cent over the 4,412 it sold during the same month last year.
The Crosstrek had one of the biggest increases with a 60 per cent sales gain over a year ago. Total sales of 1,304 units made it Subaru’s top-selling vehicle in November. Crosstrek sales offset sales declines of the popular Forester (-18.9 per cent) and Outback (-13.4 per cent).
On the car side, while sales were up 25.5 per cent to 1,367 units, bucking the trend of customers moving away from cars. Sales of the Impreza were up 51.5 per cent to 718 units.
Reuters and The Canadian Press contributed to this report.