January auto sales maintain record momentum

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While there has been widespread speculation that Canada’s four-year run of record auto sales would come to an end in 2017, the year is not starting out that way. Quite the opposite, in fact!

January’s sales of 110,945 new cars, trucks and SUVS were the highest ever for the month, up 2.2% from last January’s record-shattering total, which topped 100,000 for the first time. This year’s figures eclipsed the historical five-year average sales for the month by 12%, according to David Adams, president of the Global Automakers of Canada (GAC)

It’s an auspicious start, particularly given that year-over-year monthly sales were down for five of the past six months in 2016 and December’s seasonally adjusted annualized sales rate (SAAR) of about 1.7 million was the lowest since March 2015. January’s SAAR was back up in the 1.98-million range, according to DesRosiers Automotive Consultants (DAC). The new annual record set in 2016 was just shy of 1.95 million.

“There still seem to be elements of pent-up demand in the market,” said Adams. “The market also continues to transition to a light truck and SUV market, with fully 71% of the sales falling into the light truck category,” he added.

It’s the second month in a row that truck sales, including SUVs, accounted for more than 70% of the market. They were up 5.4% from January 2016, while passenger car sales fell by 4.8%.

The only negative note in the January results came from the J.D. Power Automotive Market Metrics report that new-vehicle “days-to-turn” during the month were up to 79, from 71 a year earlier.

FCA back on top

As it has done for the past three years, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) drew the first blood in the annual sales race, claiming first place with 18,443 vehicles sold – up 1.6% from last year, slightly below the market average.

Ford surpassed that average with a 3.5% increase to 17,255 sales but that wasn’t enough to surpass FCA. It did give Ford a market share bump of two-tenths from a year ago, to 15.5%, while FCA dropped a tenth to 16.6%.

General Motors maintained its third-place position with a 1.5% increase to 14,605 sales, dropping a tenth of share to 13.2% in the process.

Fourth-place Toyota (+0.9%) and fifth-place Honda (+1.9%) both gave up a tenth of share to 9.8% and 8.2% respectively.

Nissan (+0.9%) slipped past faltering Hyundai (-10.9%) into sixth place, while a resurgent Mazda (+18.5%) leap-frogged to seventh and Mercedes-Benz (+28.9%) vaulted from its usual 12th place all the way to eighth. That left Kia (-4.7%) and Volkswagen (-11.1%) to fill out the top ten.

Along with Mercedes, most luxury manufacturers had a strong January. Maserati (+542.1 %), Jaguar (+253.5%), Porsche (+43.6%) and Audi (+28.1%) all made big gains from recent introductions of new SUVs.

True to form, Ford’s F-Series was the best-selling truck and the best-selling vehicle overall, while the Honda Civic was the best-selling passenger car.

[NOTE: Data quoted in this report were sourced from DesRosiers Automotive Consultants, Global Automakers of Canada and individual automakers.]

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