Despite the third consecutive monthly dip in new-vehicle sales, Scotiabank Economics raised its estimate of annualized sales to 2.05 million vehicles, up from the 1.95 million it predicted just a month ago.
That new number would be high enough to set a new annual sales record, barely surpassing last year’s record total sales of 2.04 million.
May sales were down just 0.6 per cent over the month last year. Automakers sold 215,942 new vehicles last month, according to the Automotive News Data Center in Detroit.
Scotiabank economist Juan Manuel Herrera said May’s numbers were strong enough to move the needle despite the fact they were down from the same month last year. But, he has a warning.
“The month-on-month data is very volatile however — even when adjusting for seasonality,” he said in an email
David Adams, president of the Global Automakers of Canada is also upbeat about the numbers.
“Given the current economic and political uncertainty, these sales levels remain pretty impressive,” Adams said in a statement.
Talks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement have effectively stalled, with some experts saying a deal won’t be had until 2019. The United States has slapped a 25 per cent tariff on steel and aluminum, although those effects haven’t been felt. And U.S. President Donald Trump has officials investigating whether auto imports are a threat to national security and possibly subject to tariffs of their own.
Meanwhile, the Bank of Canada last week held its overnight lending rate at 1.25 per cent, but hinted a hike is coming.
Once again, truck sales dominated the Canadian market for May, accounting for 69 per cent of overall sales, according to the GAC.
Passenger cars posted a 9.4 per cent decline to about 68,000 units, according to the report by Scotibank Economics. In contrast, light truck sales rose four per cent to about 147,300 units, strengthening from a 2.2 per cent year-over-year gain the previous month, the financial institution said in the report.
The Ford F series and Honda Civic reprised their roles as the best-selling vehicle and passenger car, respectively.
May sales of new vehicles in the United States were up two per cent, helped by low unemployment and strong consumer confidence.