Canadians gorged on cars and trucks in May, buying a record 216,861 new vehicles, and breaking all previous monthly sales records, notes DesRosiers Automotive Consultants.
Canadians have bought 835,582 new vehicles this year to date, a jump of 4.7 per cent year-on-year. Perhaps it was the wealth effect at play. Statistics Canada reports the economy grew at an annualized rate of 3.7 per cent in the first quarter. As the economy grows, so apparently do car sales.
That’s the big picture. Here’s a closer look at five winners and five losers in Canada’s car market now that the May numbers are in.
Winner 1: Automakers as a whole. May sales were up 11.2 per cent year-on-year, and trucks led the way. Light truck sales were up 16.3 per cent, while passenger car sales nudged up just 2.9 per cent. Trucks now out-sell cars by about 2:1 (141,689 trucks sold, 75,172 cars).
Loser 1: Or losers. It’s a short list: BMW (-5.9 per cent), Land Rover (-0.8 per cent), and Volkswagen (-9.9 per cent). Mercedes-Benz and its smart brand landed precisely in the middle, with sales flat, month-on-month.
Winner 2: Here, we have a list of winners, carmakers whose sales simply exploded in May. Honda posted an all-time sales record for May (19,175), with an 11.6 per cent increase over May 2016, notes DesRosiers. FCA, the former Chrysler, reported a monthly sales record with 33,186 units sold. General Motors’ sales exploded, up 35.8 per cent. Other notable sales increases for May, adds DesRosiers: Jaguar (+166.2 per cent), Maserati (+77.9 per cent), Subaru (+17.6 per cent), Ford (+17.4 per cent), Audi (+16.6 per cent), Porsche (+15.7 per cent), and Lexus (+11.9 per cent).
Loser 2: The Jeep brand. FCA is really struggling with Jeep in Canada. Sales in May were down 31 per cent, and they’re off 23 per cent for the year. The Cherokee was off a stunning 64 per cent in May, while the Renegade slipped an almost equally staggering 41 per cent year-on-year.
Winner 3: Full-size pickups. Canadians just can’t get enough of them. Ford sold 15,307 F-Series pickups in May, making it the best-selling vehicle in Canada for yet another month. Ram pickup sales were up 62 per cent in May, to 14,990. That’s right. The Ram almost caught Ford’s juggernaut of a pickup. At General Motors, pickup sales were up 43 per cent year-on-year, led by the Chevrolet Silverado (up 45 per cent) and GMC Sierra (up 43 per cent).
Loser 3: Cars in general, and midsize ones in particular. Sales of the Nissan Altima were off 25.3 per cent and it was a similar story with others in the segment. The midsize sedan is suffering a slow but steady death in the marketplace.
Winner 4: Minivan mania. Toyota Sienna sales were up 45.4 per cent in May, to 1,567 units. Chrysler sold 718 Pacificas.
Loser 4: Subcompact cars. For example, the Honda Fit – a very, very good small car – fell 32.6 per cent in May. Subcompact car sales have plunged 25.5 per cent this year, notes DesRosiers.
Winner 5: Jaguar in particular and luxury vehicles in general. Jag sales surged 166.2 per cent in May. But the news was also good for Audi (up 16.6 per cent); Acura (up 15.1 per cent); Maserati (up 77.1 per cent); Infiniti (up 7.9 per cent); Lexus (up 11.9 per cent); Porsche (up 15.7); and Volvo (up 2.0 per cent).
Loser 5: The Chrysler and Dodge brands, down 25.0 and 9.0 per cent respectively. Both brands suffer from aging lineups dotted with vehicles not suited for Canadians. For instance, the Dodge Journey is as old as dirt and needs a major makeover. No wonder sales were down 48 per cent.