Automakers on Thursday used words like “challenging” and “unprecedented” to describe the new-vehicle market and sales during the second quarter of the year, which was crippled by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sales were down 44.5 per cent to 316,769, according to the Automotive News Data Center in Detroit.
The Detroit Three automakers all posted losses of greater than 35 per cent over the course of the last three months.
Toyota Canada sales were down 48 per cent while Hyundai and Kia brand sales were down 43.4 and 30.6 per cent, respectively. Nissan sales plunged 57.3 per cent.
Because the vast majority of automakers have turned to quarterly reporting, it’s not clearly known how much sales turned around — if at all — in June when compared with May, when the market was down an estimated 45 per cent.
However, DesRosiers Automotive Consultants in Toronto estimates that June sales were down 16 per cent to an estimated 155,439.
“June undoubtedly saw the release of some pent-up demand into the market as blinking consumers took their first tentative steps out of their darkened lock-down basements and back onto the sun-kissed roads and highways,” DesRosiers said in a statement. “Of course, plenty of uncertainty remains for the months to come. The extent of pent-up demand that exists in the market is uncertain.
“Moreover, with virus case counts climbing once again in the USA, Canada’s economic and public health recovery stands on an unsteady pillar. For the time being, however, the overall trend in new light vehicle sales is positive.”
DesRosiers assessment is in line with a recent report from Scotiabank Economics.
Scotiabank proprietary data in the financial institutions Global Auto Report dated June 24 showed that “whereas auto sales had been a relative drag on retail activity at the onset of the crisis, they have shifted to a more neutral position” in mid-May.
The financial institution warned “the strength of recovery should temper as rebound effects fade.”
“Auto sales during the containment phase were largely a function of the stringency of lockdown measures which were linked to COVID-19 case levels for the most part, while the rebound has been a function of re-opening,” the report reads. “The recovery phase should increasingly be driven by fundamental economic factors over time.”
Here’s a look at how some of the automakers fared during the second quarter.
GM TRUCKS 'RESILIENT'
General Motors Canada delivered 50,074 new vehicles in the second quarter, down 35.5 per cent over the same period in 2019.
From a brand perspective, Cadillac withstood the COVID-19 pandemic better than the automaker’s three brands. The low-volume luxury badge saw sales fall 9.6 per cent to 2,562.
Buick was off 18.7 per cent to 4,001 units while GMC 27 per cent. to 18,236 and Chevrolet dropped 43.7 per cent to 25,275.
“We are working hard to emerge from the unprecedented negative impacts of COVID-19 on the Canadian marketplace, and GM Canada is starting to see recovery in retail sales,” Sandor Piszar, vice-president of sales, service and marketing said in a statement. “Our dealers across the country have quickly adapted to using new enhanced cleaning protocols for vehicle shopping and delivery.”
Searching for positives amid the pandemic, GM Canada said full-size pickup sales “remained resilient” and that the automaker’s retail sales “showed some early signs of recovery, and the company gained market share in the second quarter.”
GMC Sierra sales fell 19 per cent to 12,878 units while Chevy Silverado sales fell 25.6 per cent to 12,378.
GLADIATOR FLEXES MUSCLE FOR FCA
FCA Canada’s second-quarter sales were cut in nearly half, down 48.6 per cent to 33,718.
FCA Canada CEO David Buckingham called the quarter “challenging months.”
Chrysler brand, which is already a low-volume seller in Canada, had the roughest ride with sales down 77 per cent to just 471 units.
Ram held on the best among the automaker’s mainstream brands, with sales down 39 per cent to 17,731 units. FCA sold 16,993 Ram pickups, down 38 per cent but enough to make it one of the best performing models in its lineup.
But that title went to the still-new Jeep Gladiator, which bucked all the trends and managed 1,161 sales, up 157 per cent over a year ago.
The Jeep brand overall was down 43 per cent to 10,455 units.
Dodge sales were off 64 per cent to 4,850 while the luxury Alfa line was down 35 per cent to 144.
RANGER, EXPLORER BRIGHT SPOTS AT FORD
Ford Canada sales dropped 44.8 per cent to 50,546 units during the second quarter with cars taking the biggest hit by percentage.
Car sales were down 66.2 per cent to just 2,798 compared to a year ago.
Truck sales fell 42.6 per cent to 47,748.
The new Ford Explorer and the Ford Ranger, two important vehicles in Ford’s revamped lineup, saw year-over-year sales increases despite the pandemic. Explorer gained 32.2 per cent and Ranger was up 39.3 per cent.
NISSAN DOWN MORE THAN HALF
Nissan Group posted total Canadian second-quarter sales of 17,123 units, a decrease of 57.3 per cent versus the prior year.
Nissan Rogue sold 4,339 units in the quarter to remain the automaker’s top-selling vehicle, but sales were down 61.3 per cent. The Kicks compact crossover was Nissan's second best-selling vehicle in Canada last quarter with 2,621 vehicles sold, down 40.3 per cent.
On the car side, Sentra sales were down 50 per cent to 1,302 units and Leaf EV sales dropped 72.8 per cent to just 264.
Luxury Infiniti sales were down 71.1 per cent to 820 vehicles.
This sales chart will be updated.