And so, this wonderful run of strong new car/light truck sales in Canada has come to an end.
June saw car buyers pull back noticeably for the first time since March 2013 – brining a shocking decline in year-to-date light vehicle sales, something we haven’t seen in Canada for half a decade, notes DesRosiers Automotive Consultants.
“As of the end of June 2018, a total of 1,036,677 new light vehicles were sold in Canada, down 0.2 per cent compared to 2017 when a total of 1,039,068 new light vehicles were sold,” reports DesRosiers in a note to clients. June sales slipped 1.6 per cent, year-on-year, to 200,156 from 203,486 in 2017.
Car sales continued their downward plunge, off 8.0 per cent, while light truck sales were up 1.4 per cent.
Winning brands: Hyundai’s Genesis, up 175.0 per cent, says DesRosiers. Volvo, smart, and Land Rover were up 44.3, 26.5, and 23.3 per cent respectively. Subaru (+5.1 per cent), Nissan (+0.9 per cent) and Infiniti (+16.3 per cent) were up, too.
“Overall, 16 out of 26 reporting automakers witnessed sales increases,” says DesRosiers.
That’s the big sales picture. Here’s a closer look at June’s winners and losers:
Loser: Honda/Acura. July, overall, was brutal for Honda and Acura in Canada – lots of losers, with sales overall down 2.6 per cent (to 18,754), year-on-year. Acura, specifically, was down 4.7 per cent, despite the very successful launch of the Acura RDX, with year-on-year sales up 24.2 per cent. My goodness, the CR-V provided the only winning news, with sales up 22.2 per cent in June and 17.6 on the year. The losing is frightening across the Honda line: for the year, sales are down for these core models: Civic (-4.4 per cent), Accord (-12.7), HR-V (-25.6), and Pilot (-15.2). Acura is up 2.1 per cent on the year, but why is the exceptional NSX super sports car such a loser, down 15.6 per cent on the year. Only 27 – 27!!! – Canadians have bought Acura’s halo car in 2018. Incredible.
Winner: Kia – Sales overall were up a modest 2.3 per cent in an overall down month, but Kia did have the best Canadian June in its history. Kia will keep juicing sales with deals during the usual summer doldrums, too: 0 per cent financing plus a $2,000 cash giveaway on select models. And you won’t need to make a payment until October.
Loser: Mercedes-Benz. Sales slipped 2.4 per cent to 4,904 in June. Merc Canada tried to sugar coat this with news by touting a best-ever first-half performance — 26,845 units sold, for a 1.4 per cent increase over the same period in 2017. Was June a blip or a harbinger?
Winner: Mazda, or more specifically, Mazda’s SUVs (sport-utility vehicles). Sales of the CX-3, CX-5 and CX-9 are up 20.2 per cent on the year (to 22,670), but June was really amazing – combined sales up 29.4 per cent (4,462). Sadly, the MX-5/Miata roadster, a wonderful car, is a loser: June sales down a stunning 63.6 per cent year-on-year. Only 84 Canadians bought Mazda’s roadster in June, a prime selling month.
Loser: Toyota. Combined Toyota/Lexus sales slipped 0.6 per cent in June, with Toyota brand sales down 1.1 per cent to 20,833 units. Ah, but Prius hybrid sales jumped 28.3 per cent and sales of the Prius Prime plug-in hybrid totaled 413. Selling 400-plus plug-ins in any one month is certainly a winning achievement, but Toyota has problems in some other parts of its lineup.
Winner: Jeep. Jeep sales were up 22 per cent for the first half of 2018 and June sales increased 6.0 per cent to 6,215 units. Big winners: Jeep Cherokee (+ 41 per cent to 2,296 units) and Grand Cherokee (up 13 per cent).
Loser: Ram sales were a loser, down 21 per cent overall, with Ram pickup down 19 per cent (to 9,151). Fiat Chrysler will tell you this slide is because the Ram brand is transitioning from the old Ram to a brand new version.
Winner: Volvo. Geely-owned Volvo Cars in Canada saw sales jump jumped 44.3 per cent in June (to 919 units). That’s 33 straight months of year-on-year sales increases. Oh, to be a Volvo dealer these days. Volvo Canada’s sales are up 42.6 per cent this year, BTW. The 2019 Volvo S60 sedan will help drive sales going forward, though it’s the SUVs – especially the V60 – that are the heartbeat of that growth.
Winner: Subaru. Sales up 5.1 per cent in June (to 5,348 units. Half year, Subaru is up 5.5 per cent and is on track to beat last year’s 54,570 units sold. I remember when Subaru sold literally one-tenth of that in a given year. A three-row Subaru, the Ascent, is coming, but it’s affordable rigs like the compact Crosstrek SUV that are central to Subaru (1,410 units sold in June, an increase of 63.6 per cent year-on-year).
Winner: Nissan/Infiniti. Nissan Group sales inched up 2.0 per cent to 16,330. Infiniti jumped 16.3 per cent (1,398 units). Nissan’s best-selling vehicle in Canada, the Rogue crossover, continues to achieve strong sales, with 4,342 vehicles sold in June. Sales of the LEAF EV were noteworthy: 492 units. The little Qashqai compact crossover totaled 2,150 and that makes it a winner.
Winner: GM. General Motors haters are legion and they will not be denied their bilious views, but if we just look at the numbers, this once-bankrupt automaker is rolling. Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac dealers delivered 27,638 vehicles in June, an increase of 1.8 per cent year-over-year. GM is on track to deliver more than 300,000 vehicles in Canada for 2018. GM Canada has gained almost half a point of market share in 2018, to 14.9 per cent. Ford Canada is down a similar number, to 15 per cent of market share. Could GM Canada finish the year No. 1 in sales in Canada for 2018?
Winner and loser: Jaguar Land Rover. June sales for JLR hit 1,306, a jump of 9.0 per cent over June 2017’s record. But drill down a bit and one finds that Land Rover did 926 units, leaving Jag at 380. You can see which brand is in the driver’s seat. I mean, Land Rover was up 23 per cent in June. The Range Rover Sport accounted for 293 of total sales. Jag, with six models, should have done better. F-Pace led the way with 217 sold. Jaguar needs to pick up with pace, pun intended.