New-vehicle sales fell 20 per cent during pandemic-ridden 2020, just “as expected.”
After slowly reporting sales figures over two days, the tally stands at 1.55 million sold, down precisely 20 per cent, according to the Automotive News Data Center in Detroit and just as forecasters had predicted.
From the outset of the pandemic, which began to take hold in March 2020, both DesRosiers Automotive Consultants and Rebekah Young of ScotiaBank Economics forecast a decline of 20 per cent by the year’s end.
Using its own figures, DesRosiers said on Wednesday that the 19.7 per cent drop in sales was the second biggest percentage decline on record, falling in between the 22.7-per-cent decline of 1982 and the 17.3-per-cent drop of 1954.
Canadians bought the fewest number of new vehicles since 2009, “wiping away [at least temporarily] a decade of growth,” the firm said in a statement.
“It may be difficult to take a market decline of 19.7 per cent in any way as a hopeful outcome, but from the depths of full dealer closures and a 75-per-cent market collapse in April, the year end performance was perhaps not as bad as many in the industry had feared in the spring,” DesRosiers Managing Partner Andrew King said in a statement.
The decline wasn’t a surprise to Global Automakers of Canada President David Adams.
“[Last year’s] Canadian auto sales fell by almost 20 per cent — as expected amidst COVID pandemic to 1,537,388 with Global Automakers of Canada members securing almost 60 per cent market share,” Global Automakers of Canada President David Adams tweeted, using his association's calculations.
His group represents the Canadian interests of overseas automakers. Adams wasn’t available for further comment.
“The auto sector has come through the pandemic — relative to other sectors like tourism, hospitality, aviation — with the damage limited to only 20 per cent, which, quite frankly, sounds crazy to say ‘only 20 per cent.’ That decline is an outcome that frankly is better than anticipated,” Brian Kingston, head of the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association told Automotive News Canada.
Here’s a look at how some automakers fared in 2020, according to the Automotive News Data Center in Detroit:
CHRYSLER BRAND HAMMERED AT FCA
Fiat Chrysler Canada reported Tuesday that its annual sales fell 19.9 per cent in 2020, down to 178,752.
The automaker’s Chrysler brand took the biggest hit, down 44 per cent to 3,207 units, only 447 of which were the Chrysler 300 sedan. Chrysler Pacifica sales fell 27 per cent to 2,733.
Jeep sales were off 22 per cent. Compass sales fell 39 per cent to 4,692 while Cherokee sales were off 42 per cent to 8,568 while Grand Cherokee sales decreased 20 per cent to 15,521.
Dodge Brand sales were off 28 per cent in 2020, down to 31,999.
Even the Ram brand saw double losses by percentage, down 14 per cent over 2019.
FORD DOWN, BUT REMAINS SALES LEADER
Ford Canada’s total sales decreased 16.9 per cent year-over-year, down to 239,638, making it the sales leader by volume in Canada.
A few Ford vehicles, led by the F-Series, managed to weather the storm.
The Ford F-Series finished 2020 as the best-selling pickup for the 55th consecutive year and was the best-selling vehicle for the 11th straight year.
Ford Explorer and Ford Ranger weathered all storms, with year-over-year sales increases in every quarter of 2020, despite the pandemic and its lockdowns.
“While the past year presented an unanticipated challenge for our business, Ford grew its market share in Canada and outpaced the automotive industry,” Ford Canada CEO Dean Stoneley said in a statement.
CADILLAC GM’S BRIGHT SPOT
General Motors Canada saw sales fall 14.9 per cent to 218,501 units in 2020 when compared with a year ago.
Still, the luxury Cadillac brand, redesigned Corvette, mid-size GMC Canyon pickup and the electric Chevrolet Bolt were bright spots for the automaker.
Cadillac sales were up 4.2 per cent to 12,413 on the strength of the XT4 and XT5, with 3,498 and 1,490 sold, respectively. Corvette sales were up 5.9 per cent to 1,811. And Canyon sales rose 2.9 per cent to 1,885 while Bolt sales held essentially flat, down just 0.6 per cent to 4,025.
GMC Sierra sales fell just 1.3 per cent to 52,767.
“Despite the uphill battle the industry faced in 2020, GM grew market share, delivered resilient year-end sales results thanks to strong customer demand for pickups, crossovers and SUVs, and had Cadillac’s best retail sales year in Canadian history,” Sandor Piszar, vice-president, sales, service and marketing, GM Canada said in a statement.
GM Canada’s market share grew 0.7 per cent during 2020, and retail sales were off 7.6 per cent.
Chevy Silverado, Colorado and Blazer all saw gains in the fourth quarter compared with the same period a year ago, up 24, 44.3 and 5.6 per cent, respectively.
KIA, HYUNDAI DOWN
Kia finished the year down 5.5 per cent to 72,452 vehicles.
Hyundai Canada sales, including the luxury Genesis brand, were down 15.7 per cent to 113,544. Genesis saw its sales fall 22.2 per cent to 1,186 units. Hyundai’s overall market share grew in 2020 to 7.4 per cent, up from 7.0 per cent, the company said.
TOYOTA SINKS 19%
Toyota Canada’s total sales fell 19.3 per cent with its luxury Lexus line falling 18.5 per cent to 20,822 units. Toyota brand sales were off 19.4 per cent to 170,598.
TESLA NEARLY HALVED
Tesla sales were estimated to be nearly less than half of a year ago. The electric-vehicle maker sold an estimated 15,150 cars, down 43.2 per cent, despite the availability of a federal incentive of $5,000 for some models.