April 2, 2004

Incentives spur March vehicle sales

Vancouver, B.C. – Total Canadian vehicle sales in March were 145,975, only 253 vehicles below March of 2003, according to a monthly light vehicle sales summary compiled by Desrosiers Automotive Consultants.

“Performance was highly influenced by the heavy incentives that came into place during the last few weeks of the month,” said Dennis Desrosiers. “An OEM can move product when they decide to heavily discount.”

The heaviest discounting was on the truck side of the market where truck sales were up 5.4 percent while car sales were down 4.8 percent during the month, said Desrosiers.

GM’s March sales were up 3.2% and DaimlerChrysler sales increased 9.1%. “Most of DCX was mini van which were up about 3000 units, while GM was more broad based,” said Desrosiers. “GM is also selling a lot of their GMDAT product (Korean-built Aveo, Optra, Epica – ed) and given that both Hyundai (- 10.7%) and Kia (- 25.0%) were down we suspect GM’s small car strategy is showing signs of real success.”

Ford, Mitsubishi, Honda and VW were all off this month continuing a trend that began in mid 2003. Ford was down 11.6%, Mitsubishi dropped 21.3%, Honda was off 9.5%, and VW plummeted 37.2%. Suzuki dipped 2.4%.

Of the major automakers, Mazda was the big winner, up 24.5 percent. “The Mazda3 continues to be the hottest product in the market,” reports Desrosiers.

Other bright spots included Nissan up 21.5%, and Subaru up 3.9%. Toyota sales remained flat when compared with March of 2003. “I suspect even Toyota is being hurt by Mazda,” said Desrosiers.

Sales of luxury vehicles were mixed: Acura was up 23.3%, Audi jumped 49.1%, Lexus rose 41.7%, Porsche increased 32.1%, Volvo was up 6.0%, and Land Rover rose 6.2%. BMW was down 0.5%, Infiniti dropped 15.9%, Jaguar was down 5.5%, Mercedes-Benz dropped 6.8%, and Saab dipped 2.3%.

“March U.S. sales numbers show their market to be up by 3 to 5 percent so Canada is still underperforming compared to the US,” said Desrosiers.

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