August 6, 2004

Analyst predicts downward trend in Canadian new vehicle sales

Vancouver, B.C. – Canadian vehicle sales continued a general downward trend in July with vehicle sales down 9.1% compared with July of 2003. Passenger car sales were down 7.3% and light truck sales dropped 11.2%.

“For 16 of the last 20 months the market has been down and July was no exception, despite all time record levels of incentives in the market,” said Dennis Desrosiers of Desrosiers Automotive Consultants. “We believe the auto sector will remain cyclical. We clearly peaked two years ago when the market reached 1.7 million units and if we follow pattern, which we believe will happen, then the market has quite a bit of down side to come – likely another two to as many as four years.”

In July, Ford vehicle sales were lower by 20.5%, GM sales dropped 19.2%, and DaimlerChrysler rose 1.2% on the strength of new products like the 300 sedan.

Import manufacturers were lead by Toyota (+12.5%), Honda (+7.0%), Nissan (+3.9%), and Mazda (0.6%). Mitsubishi continued is precipitous slide (-34.1%), as did Korean manufacturers Hyundai (-23.6%) and Kia (-22.2%), and Japanese automaker Suzuki (-22.3%). Subaru dropped (-3.5%), and Volkswagen dipped (-2.1%).

Gainers among luxury manufacturers included BMW (+3.1%), Infiniti (+2.5%), Saab (+2.2%), Mercedes-Benz (+0.7%), while decliners included Land Rover (-30.8%), Jaguar (-24.6%), Lexus (-24.3%), Audi (-22.0%), Acura (-1.5%) and Volvo (-0.6%).

“I think the real story this year is the continued loss of market share by GM, Ford and DCX,” said Desrosiers. “Remember this was the year that they were launching all this new product and everything was going to turn positive again. New product has helped but collectively they had their lowest market share in history in July – and this was despite huge incentive dollars poured into the market and all this new product.” One reason, he said, is “..their product is more aligned with the U.S. market than the Canadian market. If you want market share in Canada you have to position your product to what Canadians buy rather than Americans and have great product … not just good product.”

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