GM tops the list of winners and losers of 2017: the stories behind the numbers

Whew! What a stunning year.

Canadians snapped up a record 2,038,798 new SUVs, crossovers, pickups, light vans and pickups in 2017. As DesRosiers Automotive Consultants notes, for the first time in history, Canada’s new vehicle market broke through the 2.0 million sales mark.

The Chevrolet Bolt in San Francisco with Jeremy Cato. Chevrolet sold more plug-ins than any other brand for 2017.

For eight years running, Canadians have been snapping up new rides in record numbers – with 2017 sales up 4.6 per cent. But the party may be winding down. Sales were down 1.1 per cent in December, after slipping 1.2 per cent in November.

For the better part of a decade, we’ve gorged ourselves on new vehicles – especially pricy pickups, crossover wagons and SUVs (sport-utility vehicles). But rising interest rates surely are making an impact on sales. Canadian garages stuffed with new rides suggest we may have satiated our hunger for new vehicles and the incipient trends in car-sharing and urban mobility promise to impact on sales in the future.

As well, Canadians may be facing the economic realities of the new vehicle marketplace. According to J.D. Power and Associates, the average transaction price of a new vehicle in Canada is $33,000. The average new loan payment in now $590 a month, with the average monthly lease payment $550.

In a country where StatsCan reports that the average weekly salary is $986 before tax, Canadians are stretching out payments as long as possible; it’s the only way to make ownership affordable. More than half of Canadians (55 per cent) are opting for loan terms of 84 months – that’s seven years! – or longer.

Scotiabank auto analyst Carlos Gomes expects a small annual decline in sales this year, to about 2.0 million units. But sales of light trucks will continue to increase, as car sales slip.

That will be consistent with a trend that has building for years. We saw in 2017 a tipping point in consumer tastes – to light trucks. Sales there posted a double-digit increase year-on-year over 2017. Seven out of 10 Canadians now buy a new pickup, van or SUV/crossover, notes Gomes. Three years ago, it was six out of 10.

Of course, SUVs/crossovers led the way, but Canadians also bought more than 400,000 pickups last year – a double-digit increase, year-over-year.

Which brings us to winners and losers. DesRosiers notes that 15 of the 26 major brands posted all-time record sales in 2017. But not all were true winners.

BMW was a loser in 2017,

BMW Canada sold a record 38,562 BMW brand vehicles, an increase of 1.4 per cent over 2016. Yet BMW lost market share (down to 1.9 per cent of the market, from 2.0 the year before).

Jaguar sales were up 52.3 per cent. Good as that appears, Jag did not increase market share at all (steady at 0.2 per cent). That speaks to the sort of action we’re seeing in luxury sales – they’re booming overall and even large increases for minor players do not necessarily result in more market share.

The big luxury winner? Audi, which added two-tents of a point of market share (to 1.8 per cent from 1.6), and is now poised to overtake BMW in 2018. Audi’s sales were up 17.9 per cent in 2017 and there is no reason to think Audi’s momentum won’t continue in 2018.

DesRosiers also points out that Porsche (+16.8 percent), Volvo (+16.4 percent), Volkswagen (+16.0 percent), General Motors (+13.3 percent), Mercedes-Benz (+11.8 percent), Lexus (+10.0 percent) and Nissan (+10.0 percent) registered double-digit increases in 2017. Mercedes-Benz broke 50,000 sales for the first time, and Porsche broke 8,000 units.

That’s the big picture for 2017. Here’s a closer look at the winners and losers of 2017:

Luxury brands:

Winner: Audi. Honorable mention: Porsche, Volvo, Jaguar.

Audi R8 V10: halo car that works.

Audi, despite bearing the taint of the larger and global Volkswagen Group Dieselgate scandal, is on fire in Canada, and has been for a decade. The secret is no secret at all: a wide range of well-positioned SUVs that are stylish and nicely hide their VW platform roots.

In addition, Audi has worked hard to develop its dealer body in Canada – opening new stores across the country to broaden the brand’s appeal and improve local customer service.  Audi’s R8 Spyder is a wonderful halo car, the latest A8 breaks new ground in autonomous technology, but what matters most for Audi Canada are the bread-and-butter rigs like the Q5 and Q3; they are driving sales.

Porsche, another Volkswagen brand, has also been pushing a steady stream of new models, but it’s the Macan and Cayenne SUVs that account for the bulk of sales. Volvo, meantime, is the poster child for brand rebuilding, with gorgeous new models like the XC60 and XC90. And Jag’s growth is almost entirely attributable to the F-Pace, the brand’s first crossover.

Loser: BMW. Honorable mention: Land Rover. When it comes to SUVs and crossovers, BMW lacks the depth and breadth of its main rivals. The X1 should be a big winner in Canada, but it’s not. The X3 feels old and tired and the X5 is big and unimaginative. As for Land Rover, in a Canada wild for SUVs, this brand’s sales were up just 0.1 per cent, which meant Land Rover lost market share (0.4 per cent from 0.5). Land Rover is in desperate need of a relatively affordable SUV.

Mainstream brands:

Winner: General Motors. Honorable mentions: VW.

GM Canada is within a few thousand units of overtaking Ford, which has been No. 1 in Canada for most of the last decade. Amazing. Ford, notes DesRosiers, held onto the sales lead with 308,474 unit sales, but GM Canada sold 302,826 units.

GM CEO Mary Barra (left) with GM product czar Mark Reuss (right): profits driven largely by SUV and pickup sales in North America.

GM Canada sales were up 13.3 per cent, which meant a market share pickup of 1.2 per cent (to 14.9 per cent, from 13.7). Ford of Canada, meanwhile, lost half a point of market share (down to 15.1 per cent, from 15.6) on sales that crept up a paltry 1.3 per cent.

GM’s emphasis on launching new SUVs in big and growing segments, like the Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain, is paying off. All GM’s brands enjoyed impressive growth in Canada last year, largely thanks to light truck sales.

But here is something that may surprise your: Chevrolet is the No. 1 retailer of electric plug-in vehicles in Canada, with more than 6,400 units sold. The new Bolt battery car has helped, but a surge in Volt sales is the big story for GM plug-ins.

Loser: FCA. Honorable mentions: Ford, Toyota, Hyundai.

All-new 2018 Jeep® Wrangler Rubicon: needed desperately.

Many of Fiat Chrysler’s big sellers are old and tired, including the Ram and especially the Wrangler, which is being replaced with an all-new model this year. Thus, FCA sales were down 3.7 per cent, with market share off more than a point (to 13.1 per cent, from 14.2). FCA desperately needs new SUV models, with the Dodge Journey perhaps the most neglected popular model in the entire FCA universe. Yet for some reason, in 2017 FCA put enormous energy and resources into a marginal seller, the Chrysler Pacifica. Ugh.

Toyota, meanwhile, is also a surprise loser. Sales were up just 2.3 per cent, which translated into a 0.2 per cent loss of market share (to 9.8 per cent). Again, Toyota lacks the proper and broad range of SUVs,  the Tundra pickup is a dog,  the small C-HR landed with a thud and RAV4 sales crept up just 3.6 per cent. At least Prius sales were up to 3,640, for a 27.5 per cent gain.

Emerging/small brands:

Winner: Maserati.

Sales were up 83.8 per cent last year – to a whopping 1,246. We’ll see if that kind of growth is sustainable in 2018. Not likely.

Loser: smart.

The Smart electric drive: a step towards emission-free driving. And disastrous for sales.

Smart is just about out of business in Canada, other than the car2go franchise. The final nail in the coffin: smart has gone all-electric in Canada and the United States.

Stalled brands:

Winner: Acura, Land Rover, Mitsubishi.

Being the winner of the Stalled Brand Award is not something to celebrate.  Honda should be embarrassed by the performance of its Acura premium brand. Sales increased by just three units, year-on-year (to 20,300). Yes, three. Acura’s Honda-like offerings will never break through the cluttered premium market as long as they remain dressed up Hondas. I’ve already hit on Land Rover. And Mitsubishi lacks new models that appeal to Canadians.

Surprises of 2017: GM, Audi.

My mailbox is regularly stuffed with GM-haters who cannot forgive and forget the 2010 bankruptcy. This vocal chorus of naysayers is becoming increasingly irrelevant. GM is growing and has a plan to become a very modern and highly profitable car company. One day the share price will catch up with the reality of the company.

How to kill a brand: smart.

Offer a lineup of tiny two-seaters and then make them all-electric. What a mess.

Next time in winners and losers: Star models of 2017, and the dogs, of course:

Read more

Falling out of love with cars, embracing trucks

The numbers don’t lie: cars in general are headed to the endangered species list, though specific models will surely survive in small numbers — like the New Guinea Singing Dog.

In October, actual passenger car sales in Canada declined 7.9 per cent, while light truck sales surged 13.6 per cent. Seven of every 10 Canadians who bought a new vehicle in October chose an SUV (sport-utility vehicle), pickup or van. Shocking.

2018 Hyundai Kona: one of the many, many crossovers and SUVs that are storming the marketplace.

Yes, you read that correctly: pickups, vans and SUVs accounted for 70 per cent of all the new vehicles bought in Canada for October, reports DesRosiers Automotive Consultants.

“The only declines among the top ten selling light trucks were recorded for the Dodge Caravan (down 11.1 per cent) and the Ram Pickup (down 2.6 per cent),” says DesRosiers in a note to clients, adding that in October, sales fell for most of the top selling cars in Canada.

Honda Civic? Down 7.8 per cent in October.

Toyota Corolla, down 7.8 per cent.

Chevrolet Cruze, down a whopping 32.2 per cent.

Volkswagen Jetta, down 26.2 per cent.

Hyundai Accent, down 30.7 per cent.

Civics, Corollas, Cruzes, Jettas…these have been strong sellers for years, but they all are suffering mightily in 2017, and more pain is looming.

Honda Civic: sales down 7.8 in October

But light trucks? Sales are up across the board, save minivans which are actually down 3.7 per cent year-to-date. I’d argue that minivans are long, roomy cars with sliding side doors and all sorts of negative baggage, image-wise. So there’s nothing surprising about this slump in minivan sales.

SUVs and crossovers?

Scotiabank auto analyst Carlos Gomes, commenting on November sales, points to the crossover utility craze that “remains in full force. In contrast, nearly all manufacturers sold fewer cars than a year ago. In fact, car sales actually fell below the level prevailing during the Global Financial Crisis in late 2008.”

That’s right: while global vehicle sales are surging around the world (expected to top 92 million in all), and Canadians remain on track to buy more than 2.0 million new rides in 2017, actual car sales in Canada are lower than they were during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

2018 Chevrolet Cruze Sedan Diesel: Cruze sales were down 32.2 per cent in October.

The exception? Luxury cars. DesRosiers notes that sales of luxury, luxury high and luxury sport cars are all up this year (7.4, 18.0 and 4.9 per cent, respectively).

Canadians, then, are feeling flush. At least when it comes to buying a new vehicle. In fact, J.D. Power and Associates reports that the average transaction price for a new vehicle in Canada is about $33,000. Wow!

That number is being driven by the SUV and crossover love affair. Consider that even the least expensive crossover is some $5,000 more than a similar-sized car which often shares its architecture, or mechanical underpinnings. Under their skins, a Civic, Honda Accord and Honda CR-V share a platform. They are essential the same car/SUV.

Today’s buyer, however, wants the image of a crossover/SUV, along with more ride height and the accompanying improved visibility. Buyers also want the perceived safety of a truck-like rig; and the overall functionality of a tall station wagon with luxury features like a rear hatch that opens automatically with a kick to the air underneath the rear end (Ford pioneered this with the Escape, but others have this feature now, too).

A slew of new crossovers and SUVs will keep feeding the market’s insatiable appetite for bigger, taller rigs – despite the exorbitant pricing.

2018 GMC Acadia All Terrain

Just this past week, FCA’s Jeep brand showed us the 2018 version of the Wrangler SUV. Nissan is about to introduce a new compact SUV called the 2018 Nissan Kick, too. And we also have coming:

  • Hyundai’s new “urban” SUV, the Kona;
  • Volvo new XC40 small crossover;
  • Subaru’s three-row SUV, the 2018 Ascent;
  • Lexus’s three-row version of the RX crossover, along with the 2018 Toyota Sequoia;
  • Lincoln’s 2019 Nautilus SUV, another monster rig;
  • General Motor’s new GMC Acadia, to go with the recently launched GMC Terrain.

New Volvo XC40 – exterior

What kinds of rigs are most popular? The big action is in compact and intermediate SUVs. DesRosiers reports that nearly one in three new vehicles sold through October was either a compact or intermediate SUV (513,757 sold out of total sales of 1.75 million). And if you’re keeping track, compact SUVs rule in Canada: 361,554 compact SUVs sold, versus 152,203 intermediate SUVs.

If you’re a car lover, here’s the sad news: automakers have begun to aggressively pare their passenger car lineups. Slow sellers are being banished to history’s junkyard and marginally popular cars are ending up in rental fleets or car-sharing schemes. They’ll all be gone when the factory tooling wears out.

Names? Want names? Here’s a small sampling of the cars slated to be extinguished after the 2017 model year: Buick Verano, Dodge Viper, Chrysler 200, Lexus CT 200h, Mitsubishi i-MiEV, Mitsubishi Lancer, gasoline-powered smart fortwo and Volkswagen CC.

Yes, cars – actual cars – are on the endangered species list. And some models have left us forever, or will soon. Sad for some, but true for all of us.

2018 Lexus RX 350L – Lexus USA 1

2019 Lincoln Nautilus

All-new 2018 Jeep® Wrangler Rubicon

Subaru Ascent

Read more

Ford hedges on autonomous vehicle timeline, but not commitment

Ford Motor is battling the image of an also-ran in autonomous vehicle (AV) technology. And this reality makes CEO Jim Hackett bristle.

In a recent conference call to discuss Ford’s decent third-quarter earnings, Hackett emphasized that a commitment to autonomous vehicles “is not a question here at Ford at all. It’s something that is really on track and I’m very confident about what it’s going to do for the company.”

2017 Ford Focus:: quality has been terrible for years now. The Focus and Fiesta were recently named by Consumer Reports as among the least reliable vehicles.

Hackett further suggested that competitors might be over-promising when they point to a near-future in which our roads are filled with fully autonomous cars. General Motors and Tesla, for instance, might well find themselves under-delivering – and disappointing customers.

Hackett cautioned that in a “regulatory sense,” fully autonomous vehicles aren’t “really possible yet.”

Most if not all global automakers agree that no one knows when and how regulators around the world will fully adopt standards for the safety and operation of AVs. Beyond that, questions of liability remain unresolved. Who or which entities are responsible in the event of an accident?

On top of that, customer adoption remains a huge question. Who will buy AVs and how much will they be willing to pay? Hackett noted that the smartphone and personal computer industries did not evolve in a “linear” way, so it’s unlikely that the road from here to “smart” cars will be a straight line, either. Progress, it seems, will come in fits and starts, regardless of what AV acolytes and apologists are saying.

Hackett, in fact, appeared to hedge on Ford’s previous commitment to bring autonomous cars to market in 2021. Ford, he noted, is aggressively developing and testing AVs, but he noted that the 2021 launch date was set under his predecessor, Mark Fields. Fields departed Ford with a huge payout earlier this year.

Hackett emphasized that EV technology “is evolving in a non-linear way. And as all you write about it, I see you trying to peg when is it fully smart. And that is a really elusive question.”

Ford’s F-150 is incredibly profitable.

In other words, no hard promises on the AV front — other than a promise that Ford is working on them and is committed to smart cars in general.

That said, added Hackett, the reality of AVs “is not a question here at Ford at all. It’s something that is really on track and I’m very confident about what it’s going to do for the company.”

Ford, of course, is in the early stages of a remake and re-set under new CEO Hackett. He signalled Ford’s new direction/s this month in a long-term strategic plan. Ford has also announced countless senior management changes in recent weeks.

In terms of immediate and tangible progress, October brought mixed results.

Ford’s fully autonomous Fusion Hybrid research vehicle on the streets of Dearborn, Mich.

Consumer Reports hammered Ford in its most recent dependability rankings. The Ford brand placed 15th out of 27 brands, with Lincoln the luxury brand dropping to an embarrassing 22nd. Ford’s Focus and Fiesta small cars were both named among the least reliable vehicles.

On the other hand, Ford’s third quarter results beat analyst expectations. Net income came in at $1.6 billion, well ahead of the same quarter in 2016 (all figures in U.S. dollars). Ford has been diligently and aggressively cutting costs to boost the bottom line.

And the continued strength of the F-150 pickup has had a very good effect on revenue and earnings. The F-150 is truly a beast for rivals to reckon with. Ford said the average F-150 transaction price hit $45,400 per truck in the quarter, up $2,800 from a year ago.

CEO Hackett said the results were solid, but acknowledged the tremendous amount of work ahead. Among them: Ford is essentially the F-Series company. A one-product car company is vulnerable to any number of threats, of course. Worse, Ford posted a loss in Europe and while Ford expects Europe to be profitable in 2017, the returns will not match 2016’s.

Hackett emphasized that Ford is being refashioned into a car company that will compete and win on the global stage, a not so subtle dig at his predecessor in the C-suite. “And I can assure you that we’re committed to transforming our business.”


Read more

FCA needs a 21st century car company plan

The marketplace is swirling with rumours and speculation about the future of Fiat Chrysler (FCA). This is bad news for consumers of FCA’s many brands, though it’s highly entertaining for stock watchers and car business aficionados.

Sergio Marchionne, CEO of FCA.

And so…

Rumours and speculation?

Some suggest FCA is anxious to do an IPO/spin-off of its Maserati and Alfa Romeo brands, just as it did with Ferrari in 2015. At least one Chinese automaker appears poised to make a play for the Jeep brand, and perhaps all of FCA. China’s Great Wall Motor has, for one, confirms interest in owning Jeep, an icon of American military might. Enjoy that irony.

So, what would Jeep, Maserati and Alfa together be worth? The smart money suggests more than $35 billion (US). That pile of cash could be used to help what’s left of FCA fund the development of new and desperately needed products and technologies for its mass market brands – Ram, Dodge, Chrysler and Fiat.

FCA, we should not forget, is the product of a combination of the former Fiat and Chrysler Corp. — Chrysler which was rescued out of bankruptcy with the help of loans and other assistance from American and Canadian taxpayers seven years ago. We — you and me — have at least a distant stake in these proceedings; we helped bail Chrysler out and make it palatable for Fiat to swallow whole. And today, well, plenty of Canadian jobs are in play here.

Nonetheless, the hard truth is, FCA needs the capital. The company badly lags behind its competitors in autonomous and electrification technologies. Moreover, FCA’s stable of traditional powertrain technologies are, collectively, mediocre, as well.

What’s happened here is easy to understand. Since bankruptcy, FCA has not invested the funds and effort necessary to keep pace with its rivals in two key technology areas: autonomous drive and electrification.

2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio: rumours suggest FCA might spin-off or sell its Alfa brand.

To be fair, FCA has used some of its scarce resources to make taxpayers whole. The Netherlands-based company payed off its bailout loans long ago. That’s worth a round of applause.

But paying back taxpayers has come at a price. That is, FCA has lacked a really rich well of resources to invest in research and development — in new product development.

CEO Sergio Marchionne has never conceded this reality, not publicly. Instead, he has long-argued that ALL car companies — not just his — lack the resources to develop the full scope of 21st century advanced technologies — autonomous drive, electrification and so on.

FCA’s rivals dispute that. Late last year, for instance, Daimler AG said it would invest €10 billion to develop at least 10 new EVs by 2015. Ford Motor plans to invest $4.5 billion (US) in electrified vehicles by 2020. Toyota, Honda, Nissan, General Motors, BMW, Hyundai Motor… All the world’s big car companies are sinking huge sums into advanced technologies and services.

FCA has been close to mute about its plans for big investments in electrification and autonomous drive. Instead, Marchionne has energetically advocated technology-sharing among the world’s big automakers. He argues this is a smart cost-saving measure.

Alas, Marchionne has been repeatedly rebuffed in his efforts to build big, sweeping alliances with his rivals – who see proprietary technologies as essential competitive advantages. This seems quite clear: FCA has under-invested in critical high-tech areas, apparently waiting for these alliances to form..

FCA is making a huge mistake here. Goldman Sachs, for instance, argues that by 2025, 25 per cent of cars sold will have electric motors, up from 5.0 per cent today. Most electrified vehicles will be hybrids of some sort. Therefore, automakers must also continue refining the internal combustion engine to make it compliant with increasingly challenging fuel economy and emissions rules around the world.

Carmakers must also search for ways to strip weight out of future models while also meeting tougher safety standards. These efforts across the board are very, very expensive.

The Jeep brand might be worth $27 billion (US) if spun off or sold. At least one Chinese automaker has said it is interested in Jeep.

Meantime, the world’s big automakers are racing to develop autonomous vehicles. Semi-autonomous vehicles are already on the road. Fully autonomous rides are coming fast and some believe fully self-driving cars will be available in the very near future. McKinsey and Co. says that by 2030, once regulatory hurdles are overcome, 15 per cent of all new cars sold will be fully autonomous.

Again, autonomous technology is expensive to develop and implement. It forces car companies to foster and often fund supplier relationships with specialized companies. This explains why all the world’s car companies have a growing presence in Silicon Valley, the information technology heartland. Most observers believe FCA lags its competition here, too.

Now a third major and related trend is ride-sharing. General Motors’ Maven car-sharing service is a perfect example of an area where FCA remains an also-ran. The price tag to nurture ride sharing units and alliances is hefty.

Last year, GM invested $500 million in Lyft, a car-sharing service, for instance. GM is hardly alone. Toyota has invested in Uber, Volkswagen has purchased shares of Gett, and BMW has become a shareholder of carpool-platform Scoop, to name three more rivals.

Ram:pickup: popular and profitable.

FCA and Google’s Waymo unit have entered into a modest deal to test an autonomous ride-sharing service. But FCA has not yet invested in anything with the scope and vision of GM’s Maven. Overall, FCA’s competitors clearly have a significant edge in this area.

Then there is this complication: FCA is in the early stages of planning and executing a leadership succession strategy. CEO Marchionne is expected to depart in 2018.

Marchionne deserves great praise for successfully merging Fiat and Chrysler, making it quite profitable today. But Marchionne’s constant emphasis on the need for mergers and spin-offs — his obsession with deal-making — has been an unwanted distraction for the company.

My point is, the car business demands leaders with a tight focus on today’s operations. Those leaders must also be astute, forward-thinking visionaries who regularly approve multi-billion-dollar investments in future products, technologies and services. I’d argue FCA’s leadership has been under-performing right across the board here.

Take quality. FCA’s consistently miserable performances in all manner of quality studies suggests the company lacks focus on the very fundamentals of the industry.

Indeed, in the latest J.D. Power and Associates long-term Vehicle Dependability Study, the Fiat brand finished dead last with Jeep second-worst among all brand. This result is not an aberration nd it’s inexcusable.

It appears to me that FCA has stalled while leadership has focused on finding cost-sharing deals that have yet to materialize in any substantive way. The company has not adequately invested its own resources in future technologies and alliances. I understand why, but the problem remains.

In any case, FCA appears to be falling further behind its rivals in critical areas. Quality remains a serious problem, too. And, frankly, management looks tired and short of the new ideas, initiatives and energies needed to position FCA in a world of autonomous, connected and electrified vehicles.

FCA’s best play might very well be to sell off Jeep and use that massive windfall to fund product and technology programs right across its remaining brand lineup. There is value to be exploited in the Ram, Chrysler, Dodge and Fiat brands, but only if the products are modern, technologically advanced. I would also argue against selling Maserati and Alfa. Both upscale brands are needed to launch halo products and technologies that filter down and throughout the higher volume brands.

Yes, FCA needs an injection of new, forward-thinking leadership that is fully and completely devoted to the car/light truck/SUV business as it is evolving in the 21st century. Who are those leaders and where will they come from?

Read more

The latest sales numbers: winners and losers in Canada

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).

The all-new 2017 F-150 Raptor. Truck sales are surging and the F-Series remains Canada’s most popular vehicle.

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.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid cutaway. The Pacifica is a minivan success story.

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.

Read more