The monthly-sales news black-out that began with GM Canada in late 2018 is “going viral,” as more automakers switch to quarterly reporting. That means less than 40 per cent of the market is represented by those OEMs that reported their results for January 2020.
Those that did report their numbers for Canada include Toyota, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Kia, Hyundai, Mazda and Volvo. That’s not enough to indicate the overall industry trend, but one thing does stand out: The Koreans are on a tear to start 2020.
Hyundai sales spiked 12.8 per cent in January, and Kia’s by 14.0 per cent.
In Hyundai’s case, sharply higher truck sales offset a car-sales decline; at sister company Kia, both categories grew similarly -- and with an almost exact 50/50 split between cars and trucks.
Kia’s car strength was mainly on the back of Forte and Soul sales. Hyundai’s truck performance was bolstered by new SUV nameplates -- the Venue (456 sold in January) and Palisade (430) -- and the growing popularity of the Kona (up 36 per cent). Kia’s twin of the Kona, the new Seltos, was not yet on sale in January.
Subaru Canada followed Hyundai’s lead (cars were down, trucks were up) in achieving a 5.7-per-cent gain to set a January record. Subaru’s top seller was its smallest CUV, the Crosstrek. Mitsubishi similarly claimed a January record on the basis of a 1.6-per cent uptick. Volvo sales edged up 0.9 per cent and Mazda’s by 0.3 per cent.
For Toyota Canada, higher Lexus sales were overwhelmed by declining Toyota volume, leaving the company 3.8 per cent in arrears overall. Toyota reported January-record hybrid sales, but was especially weakened by a 75-per cent plunge in sales of the Sienna minivan.
Nissan Canada sales dipped 8.4 per cent, this despite gains for its biggest-volume models -- Nissan Rogue up 15.8 per cent and Kicks up a whopping 154 per cent. Offsetting that, Sentra sales swooned 51 per cent and the absence of the now-discontinued Versa Note left a 365-unit hole in Nissan’s total compared with last January.
Combined sales of the brands that have reported so far stand about three per cent ahead of January 2019. But those brands represent only about a 38-per cent share of the overall market. That being the case, Desrosiers Automotive Consultants has decided not publish its usual summary of sales at this point or to attempt any forecasts.
A recent report by Scotiabank Economist Rebekah Young predicted a further modest decline in full-year 2020, to 1.91 million units from last year’s 1.92 million.