Canadian new-vehicle sales fell 12 per cent in the first quarter of 2022 when compared to the same quarter a year ago, due mainly to a lack of inventory.
Automakers sold 337,039 automobiles during the first three months this year, according to the Automotive News Research & Data Center in Detroit.
Quarterly sales figures are considered whole numbers as nearly every automaker — save a few luxury and electric brands — reports every three months.
March 2022 sales totaled an estimated 140,460, down 19.8 per cent compared with March 2021, according to DesRosiers Automotive Consultants (DAC), which uses proprietary modelling techniques to estimate monthly sales. Monthly sales remain estimates.
DAC Managing Partner Andrew King was quick to make a key point about monthly comparisons, year over year.
“It should be remembered that March 2021 was a red-hot month,” he said in a statement, “and the decline of 19.8 per cent seen in March this year was not unexpected.”
March 2021 was still near the beginning of the global microchip crisis, inventory was higher and it marked the first month of post-lockdown activity in many of Canada’s provinces.
Much has changed in a year.
AutoForecast Solutions on March 31, said it now forecasts automakers to sell 1.78 million new vehicles in Canada in 2022.
“Just as the rest of the region continues to deal with low inventory levels and high fuel costs, a turnaround of the Canadian market is not expected before the latter half of 2022, if not next year,” the firm said in its AutoForecastMonthly newsletter.
HOW SOME AUTOMAKERS FARED
Hyundai and its luxury Genesis line were among the few brands to post first-quarter gains in 2022, up 7.5 and 38 per cent, respectively.
Mini sales rose six per cent. Lincoln sales were up 18.5 per cent.
Stellantis sales fell eight per cent to 42,587 in the first quarter. However, Jeep, Chrysler and Maserati brands posted increases for the automaker. Jeep sales were up 11 per cent in the quarter to 16,659, accounting for nearly 40 per cent of all the vehicles Stellantis sold during the first three months of 2022.
“The past few months have included significant new product launches and updates for the company, most notably for several models from the Jeep brand,” FCA Canada CEO David Buckingham said in a statement. “What’s more, in just its first year in the marketplace, Jeep Wrangler 4xe has quickly become one of the best-selling plug-in hybrid vehicles in Canada. Today, 1-in-5 Wrangler models sold is a plug-in hybrid 4xe, as the brand moves towards its goal of being the number one green SUV brand in the world.”
FCA Canada remains its own entity under Stellantis, which was formed more than a year ago when FCA merged with PSA Group.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee L is also off to a hot start, with 2,173 units sold January through March.
Chrysler sales surged 54 per cent to 3,267 units with Pacifica sales up 50 per cent and Grand Caravan sales up 79 per cent.
General Motors Canada saw its first-quarter sales plunge by nearly a quarter when compared with the same three months a year ago, down 24 per cent to 47,699 this year.
However, sales were up 21 per cent over the fourth quarter of last year.
“Our results this quarter demonstrate both the challenges the team has faced, and the successes they have delivered despite the headwinds,” Sandor Piszar, vice-president, sales, service and marketing, GM Canada, said in a statement. “The first quarter of 2021 was unique as customer demand in Canada was extremely strong at the same time that we had significant inventory on dealer lots. Since then, the industry-wide shortage of semiconductors required us to prioritize production of our most in-demand models. Compared to the fourth quarter of 2021, you can see the success GM Canada and our dealers have had getting those models to Canadian customers.”
Only seven models posted first-quarter gains for GM Canada. The GMC Yukon, Yukon XL and Terrain were all up, as were sales of the Chevrolet Malibu and Equinox. The Cadillac Escalade and Escalade ESV also posted gains.
Toyota sales fell 13 per cent but it’s luxury Lexus line saw a sales increase of 5.7 per cent to 5,095.
Other luxury brands to see their sales spike were mass-market Audi (up five per cent) and low-volume Bentley (up 75 per cent) Rolls-Royce (up 11 per cent), Porsche (up 28 per cent) and Lamborghini (up 11 per cent).