The new light-vehicle market grew again in August, with sales jumping 18.3 per cent compared to the same time last year, according to DesRosiers Automotive Consultants Inc.
Automakers sold an estimated 149,697 vehicles last month, the firm said. But, DesRosiers warns against comparing that total with the one from the same month a year ago.
“August 2022 was a very weak comparable – the worst August since 1999 – but still, the market strength this year was impressive,” DesRosiers said in a statement Sept. 6.
Looking back even further, last month’s total was 1.8 per cent higher than the 146,925 vehicles automakers sold in August 2021, but still down 17.7 per cent from the August 2019 total of 181,996 in the last uninterrupted sales year prior to the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.
Monthly sales totals are estimates because the vast majority of automakers have turned to quarterly reporting, while Ford of Canada reports just annual sales totals.
August marked the tenth straight month of year-over-year gains, DesRosiers said.
Of the 10 brands — owned by seven automakers — that still report monthly sales, not one reported a decrease last month, according to the Automotive News Research and Data Center in Detroit. It marked the second consecutive month in which that happened, indicating a sales rebound continues.
DesRosiers said the increase was fueled by improved vehicle supply and pent-up demand from the 1.1 million so-called lost sales during the first two years of the pandemic.
Inventory has also been in short supply because of the ongoing global shortage of semiconductors. Although microchip supply is increasing, U.S.-based AutoForecast Solutions predicts automakers will cut 2.4 million vehicles from planned production in 2023 because of lack of chips.
The seasonally adjust annual sales rate for August 2023 came in at 1.65 million units, the highest level seen since February “and a positive sign of market resilience to date.”
AutoForecast Solutions' annual sales forecast for 2023 remains steady at 1.64 million light vehicles.
DesRosiers previously predicted the auto industry would be in a rare scenario this year, with car sales rising despite a broader economic slowdown.
“It will be interesting to see if market momentum can be sustained in the coming months in light of high interest rates, weakening economic performance, and record-high new vehicle prices,” the firm said.
The Bank of Canada on Sept. 6 held its benchmark interest rate steady at five per cent, but did not rule out future hikes if needed to slow inflation.
HOW THEY FARED
Kia was the biggest gainer in August, with sales up 63 per cent to 8,362. Sales of the Sportage and Seltos, up 73 and 72 per cent to 1,942 and 1,888, respectively, led the way.
Honda CRV sales, up 192 per cent to 5,755, helped propel the automaker's sales upward by 28 per cent to 12,746.
Similarly, 5,831 sales of the RAV4, up 37 per cent, helped Toyota to a 27-per-cent increase.
The Canadian Press contributed to this report.