While at least one analyst predicts “a bumpy ride” for new-vehicle sales in 2020, a handful of automakers are off to smooth, fast starts this year, nonetheless.
Toyota, Hyundai and Kia all remain in positive territory after the first two months of business. All three posted gains again in February.
There were 26 selling days last month, up from 24 in Feb. 2019.
Overall, most analysts expect sales to slide this year as economic growth slows.
Here's a look at how some automakers fared in February:
TOYOTA SEDAN SALES SPIKE
Toyota Canada sales surged 14 per cent in February and set a new record total for the month with cars and trucks both posting double-digit gains.
Toyota brand sedan sales were up 21 per cent to 5,101 units last month when compared to February 2019.
Corolla was the best-selling car by volume at 3,128 units and up 26 per cent. But it was the Prius, up 174 per cent to 592 sold, that led all vehicles by percentage increase.
Toyota officials weren’t immediately available for comment, but the Prius is one of about 50 vehicles that qualify for the federal government’s electric-vehicle incentive program.
Camry sales were up 26 per cent to 1,160 units.
Toyota brand truck sales were up 10 per cent as sales of the full-size Tundra and and mid-size Tacoma were up 29 and 43 per cent, respectively. The automaker sold 1,052 Tacoma trucks and 815 Tundras last month.
But Toyota’s top-selling vehicle remained the Canada-made RAV4, which saw its sales increase six per cent to 4,065 units.
One of the automaker’s biggest losers was the Sienna minivan, which saw sales fall by more than half — down 58 per cent to just 391 units.
On the luxury side, Lexus brand sales were up 14 per cent on the strength of the NX and RX, up 16 and 46 per cent to 497 and 659 units, respectively.
HYUNDAI SALES UP
Hyundai brand sales were up 2.7 per cent in February. The Korean automaker’s top-selling car was the Elantra at 1,410 units sold. The compact Kona SUV and Tucson mid-size SUV were in a dead heat for top-selling vehicle. Hyundai sold 1,613 Konas and 1,672 Tucsons last month.
On the luxury side, Genesis sales fell 13 per cent, dragging Hyundai Canada’s total sales down to 2.5 per cent.
SUBARU SALES SURGE
Subaru sales surged 14 per cent in February, selling 3,501 vehicles and establishing a new high-water mark for the month.
Leading the way, the Crosstrek achieved 1,011 units sold, representing a 57-per-cent increase over the same month last year. Forester sales resulted in a 34-per-cent jump to 833 units sold, while Outback finished the month with 718 units sold, up 16 per cent from last February. All three models set best February on record.
The Impreza was the automaker’s top-selling car at 380.
NISSAN SALES SLIP
Nissan Canada saw its sales decrease by 12 per cent to 7,532 vehicles in February.
The Nissan Division recorded sales of 6,943 units in February, down 10 per cent.
There were some bright spots for the automaker.
The Rogue crossover remained Nissan Canada’s best-selling vehicle in February with 2,127 units sold, a seven-per-cent increase year-over-year. And the Nissan Leaf all-electric vehicle has its best February ever with 245 vehicles sold, representing an increase of 90 per cent from 2019.
Luxury sales of the automaker’s Lexus brand were down 30 per cent to 589 units.
FEWER SALES IN 2020?
The final sales tally for February will be incomplete. Most automakers, led by the Detroit Three and German brands have shifted from monthly sales releases to quarterly reports.
DesRosiers Automotive Consultants Inc. estimates there were 123,375 light vehicles sold during February, a 2.1-per-cent increase from a year earlier.
Light truck sales rose about six per cent to 96,500 in the month, while passenger car sales fell 11 per cent to 26,875 to continue a trend towards larger vehicles, the firm said.
The consultancy says that while the increased sales in January and February are positive, they're compared to “noticeably muted” sales a year earlier and shouldn't be taken as an indication of the trend for the year ahead.
DesRosiers says that the coronavirus and the potential economic pullback raise concerns, and create significant uncertainty for the automotive market.
Still, the rise in the past two months marks a change from the downward trend seen for much of the past two years.
Automakers sold 1.92 million vehicles in Canada in 2019, marking the second consecutive year of sales declines following the high-water mark of 2.04 million sold in 2017, according to the Automotive News Data Center in Detroit.
Scotiabank has predicted sales to dip slightly again this year, falling to 1.91 million units.
“Auto sales are in for another bumpy ride in 2020,” the financial institution says.
The Canadian Press contributed to this report.