May 6, 2004

April vehicle sales rise 4.5% in Canada

Vancouver, B.C. – Canadian vehicle sales rose 4.5% in April, the first monthly sales increase (when compared with the same month a year ago) since July, 2003. Passenger car sales dropped slightly (-0.2%), while light truck sales rose 11%. The big winners in April were Suzuki (+50%), Mazda (+26%), General Motors (+15%), Ford (+7%), and DaimlerChrysler (+4%). Subaru (+2%)and Toyota (+1%) were also up slightly.

Dennis Desrosiers of Desrosiers Automotive Consultants suggested that incentives played a role in the increased sales. “Nobody tracks detailed incentive data but a survey of various deals in April indicates that discounting was very strong,” he said. “An improving economy, continued low interest rates and strong fleet sales also helped.”

Many Asian automakers, which had been flying high in the sales charts recently, declined in April. Honda was down 15 percent, Nissan declined 8%, Hyundai was down 7 percent, and Kia dropped 12 percent.

“Honda is upside down in their product cycle and even Honda has difficulty selling an aging product line,” said Desrosiers. The two Koreans (Kia and Hyundai) are up against stiff competition from GM’s small car strategy.”

Volkswagen also suffered a steep decline with a 21% drop in April vehicle sales when compared with April of 2003.

Many luxury automakers posted sales increases, but there were some notable exceptions: Land Rover (-35%), Infiniti (-16%), Mercedes-Benz (-9%), Volvo (-8%), and Porsche (-8%).

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