September 3, 2004

Canadian vehicle sales in August ‘abysmal’

Vancouver, British Columbia – Canadian vehicle sales for August were described as “abysmal” by auto analyst Dennis Desrosiers of Desrosiers Automotive Consultants. “They also give further evidence that this industry continues to change,” he said. “There is no more Big 3 but a group of very competitive global vehicle companies. August is further proof of this.” Both Honda (14,380) and Toyota (14,068) were in spitting distance of DaimlerChrysler’s August sales total (14,523).

Total vehicle sales in August dropped 6.7% when compared with August of 2003. Light trucks declined 8.9% while cars dipped 5.0%.

Among the decliners were Ford (-11.9%), General Motors (-11.5%), Hyundai (-14.7%), Kia (-13.5%), Nissan (-8.4%), Mazda (-7.7%), Suzuki (-7.2%), Volkswagen (-6.0%), and Toyota (-4.8%). Even DaimlerChrysler, which recently introduced a flurry of new models, was down (-3.2%). Some luxury automakers also suffered declines, including Acura (-12.2%), Audi (-18.6%), Lexus (-14.0%), Jaguar (-29.6%), and Land Rover (-36.6%).

Bucking the trend were Honda (+15.4%), Subaru (+3.0%), and luxury brands BMW (+31.0%), Saab (+25.2%), Porsche (+19.3%), Volvo (+16.1%), Mercedes-Benz (+4.4%), and Infiniti (+1.9%).

Desrosiers blamed slumping sales on three factors. “First, high gas and insurance prices are keeping the lower end consumer out of the market entirely or at the very least pushing them into the used vehicle market,” he said.

“Second, in both July and August fleet sales (which typically account for about 20 percent of demand) have been soft. Third, the traditional safety valve of consumer incentives and high leasing rates is coming back to haunt the market. You can argue that the extra sales from a year or two years ago are coming out of sales that we would normally have today. In essence the future is today.”

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