Audi? Winner. Ford? Bigger winner. General Motors? Much bigger winner.
Then we have Infiniti, Porsche, Subaru, Kia, Maserati and Smart? Massive winners across the board. Sales of all these brands in Canada jumped as much as 318.6 per cent in November (Smart) and as “little” as 13.2 per cent (Audi).
Losers? Fiat Chrysler (FCA), Hyundai, Mini and Volkswagen. All posted sales declines in a month where light vehicle sales jumped a whopping 10.4 per cent year-on-year, notes DesRosiers Automotive Consultants.
Overall, Canadians went on a car-buying binge in November, snapping up 160,573 new light vehicles, says DesRosiers. This, even as the Canadian economy continued its year-long shift to part-time work from full-time, according to the latest from Statistics Canada. New part-time jobs out-paced full-time job creation.
“Plenty of jobs in the offing, but not the kind of work we’d like to see,” Avery Shenfeld, chief economist with CIBC, said in a research note.
It’s difficult to reconcile strong new-car sales in light of the employment situation in Canada. The average monthly new vehicle loan payment is $570 in Canada, with monthly lease payments about $530, says J.D. Power and Associates. That even as 56 per cent of Canadians stretching their payments out to 84 months or longer.
Not surprisingly, the oil patch is a mess. Unemployment there is up to 9.0 per cent, a level of joblessness not seen since 1994. Naturally, vehicle sales in Alberta were down 9.2 per cent through the end of October, notes DesRosiers.
But in Ontario, sales were up 11.7 per cent, with a 5.0 per cent rise in British Columbia and a 2.7 per cent gain in Quebec. When buyers in three of the four largest provinces are cleaning out dealer showrooms, the national sales numbers look great.
“Last year, total vehicle sales stopped just short of 1.9 million vehicles sold,” reports DesRosiers, predicting a likely new annual sales record in Canada “around 1.95 million new vehicles.”
That means plenty of winners.
General Motors’ results were the most shocking; sales were up 30.8 per cent. GM? Really?
GM Canada is still No. 3 by sales in Canada (13.7 per cent market share), and a long way behind No. 1 Ford (15.6 per cent market share) and FCA (14.2 share). But GM’s growth is broad-based across a number of model lines, while Ford is basically the F-Series company and FCA is struggling with a generally tired lineup.
Chevrolet? Winner, with sales up 25 per cent. The new Malibu sedan is helping a lot in an otherwise dying midsize car segment, while the Colorado midsize pickup remains strong and the Silverado full-size pickup keeps percolating along.
The real shocker of a winner, though, is Buick. Yes, Buick. The new Envision and Enclave SUVs led the way with sales of Buick SUVs up a stunning 93 per cent in November. GMC, a strictly truck division, saws sales jump 41 per cent.
Ford also rode truck sales to a strong November, up 18.2 per cent. The F-Series was up 37 per cent, which is good and bad news.
The F-Series accounts for about one of every two Ford vehicles sold in Canada. Basically, Ford is the F-Series company in Canada and for now that’s worked well enough to earn outgoing Ford Canada CEO Dianne Craig a promotion to a U.S. job starting in January.
The F-Series is hugely profitable, but this sort of over-reliance on one very expensive and very large model suggests two things: a willingness to take short-term gains at the expense of long-term strength. Compact and subcompact SUVs and crossovers are on fire in Canada, yet the Ford Escape compact SUV was up just 11 per cent last month – despite a refit.
Ford won’t have anything to compete in the red-hot subcompact SUV segment (up 23.2 per cent, according to DesRosiers) until 2018 when the made-in-India EcoSport arrives. Incoming Ford of Canada President and CEO Mark Buzzell is taking over a one-model brand in Canada, one lacking competitive products in key Canadian segments.
As for other winners, Jaguar sales were up 272.8 per cent. The new F-Pace Jaguar crossover led the way, accounting for 57 per cent of all Jag sales in November. A clear winner.
Purists may hate the idea of a Jaguar truck, but it’s selling – just like the Porsche Cayman and Macan SUVs. BTW, Porsche sales last month were up 20.2 per cent.
Same story at Infiniti. The 7-passenger QX60 accounted for one-third of all Infiniti sales. A big winner, as was the monstrous QX80 SUV which accounted for another 8.0 per cent of Infiniti sales. If you want to be a winning brand in Canada, offer a range of trucks, luxurious ones included.
Losers? Mini was down 24.9 per cent. Something appears to be very wrong with Mini’s strategy in Canada – both the lineup and the marketing. FCA sales were down 1.7 per cent, no doubt reflecting a new policy regarding how sales are reported.
Hyundai was down 5.0 per cent. Ugh. The Santa Fe and Santa Fe sport are aged SUVs in a competitive SUV market and Hyundai has nothing to offer in the subcompact SUV range.
And then there’s Volkswagen, down 0.5 per cent. The fallout from the Dieselgate scandal continues. VW Canada has been largely silent on the issue, even as its U.S. counterpart has reached a deal with prosecutors. Apparently car shoppers are noticing.