Sales of vehicles in Canada rose by 11.2 per cent over last February in Canada, and are up 13.1 per cent year-to-date, supporting hopes that this will be a banner year for automotive sales and production. While not yet at the high levels of 2008, prior to the financial crisis, the two slowest months (January and February) have both shown significant gains and the highest sales since then.
Chrysler led the way with 16,536 units sold, up nine per cent over February last year and retaining the top spot in the Canadian market for the second month in a row. Strong performers were the Ram pickup and Jeep Wrangler, both of which had record monthly sales, and the refreshed Chrysler 300 and 200, whose sales were stagnant last year but are moving well so far in 2012. (Goes to show what a nice interior can do for a brand reaching for the upscale end of the market.)
Ford and General Motors were close behind with 15,454 and 14,258 respectively. Ford’s numbers lag behind last year’s, while GM enjoyed 16 per cent growth. Ford’s F-150 sales were strong, and the Mustang and Lincoln MKS each had 105 per cent improvement over last year. Sales of the Lincoln Navigator also improved… by a surprising 42 per cent!
Toyota and Hyundai round out the top five, with 11,523 and 9,266 respectively. Toyota achieved a 31 per cent increase over last year (which is huge, considering they already sell at a high volume), with 250-plus per cent gains by the new Camry and Yaris Hatchback models. Lexus sales were up even though they are about to launch nine new or refreshed models in the coming year. Curiously, despite basking in the glow of its AJAC Canadian Car of the Year win, the Hyundai Elantra was down three per cent compared to last February and is down eight per cent on the year so far. Despite that, solid gains by their crossovers — Tucson, Santa Fe and Veracruz — and the Genesis luxury sedan means Hyundai is up 6.5 per cent for February and 8.7 year-to-date.
Other big winners include Kia with a 20 per cent gain and Nissan with a 17 per cent bump over last February, Honda with a 14 per cent improvement and Volkswagen with a nine per cent gain, all of whom are also up significantly year-to-date.
There were similar trends in the US market, with Chrysler experiencing record sales, the Brampton-built 300 faring particularly well, and the market on the whole looking healthy.