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DesRosiers: Canadian Sales 'Impressive' Once Again

The summer continues to be a hot one for several automakers in Canada. Following about 3-percent year-over-year growth in June, Canadian new-vehicle sales last month improved 4.7 percent, according to data provided by DesRosiers Automotive Consultants.

Specifically, automakers moved 148,184 new vehicles in July, with year-to-date sales coming in at 1.01 million units for a 6.7-percent hike. Firm president Dennis DesRosiers pointed out the market "continues to show solid growth and impressive summer performances from a number of players."

That includes the Japanese lot.

Sales for Honda/Acura climbed 26.8 percent from a year ago, while Toyota/Lexus jumped 30 percent compared to July 2011, according to DesRosiers' analysis. And some of the smaller OEMs have made strides as well, he stressed. In July, Subaru boosted its sales 23.3 percent and Suzuki was up 9.8 percent.

"Among Japanese OEMs, Honda/Acura and Toyota/Lexus show no signs of relenting in rebuilding the market share lost in 2011," DesRosiers shared. "While the story of Japanese recovery has been told primarily through the larger brands, lower volume OEMs Subaru and Suzuki flexed their market muscles last month."

Conversely, DesRosiers points out what has happened at Nissan Infiniti (down 29.3 percent in sales for July) and Mitsubishi (down 16.4 percent).

"Nissan/Infiniti and Mitsubishi, caught at weak moments in their product cycles, have yet to join the Japanese rally," he shared.

Elsewhere, the Big 3 showed improvement in July, though not at the same pace as some of their Japanese counterparts. DesRosiers indicated that Chrysler, for instance, climbed 3.4 percent. Ford was up 2.2 percent in July.

And while sales for General Motors fell 5.6 percent, domestics overall were up 0.4 percent in July (with sales of 71,195 units) and year-to-date sales have improved 0.6 percent for the Detroit automaker (459,934 units)

"Detroit brands again underperformed relative to the Canadian average, but bright spots can be glimpsed," DesRosiers noted. "Both Chrysler and Ford built volume on a year-over-year basis, and both companies also remain ahead in their respective year-to-date counts."

Overall, their import rivals (including European, Japanese and Korean brands) pushed their July sales up 9.1 percent, with 76,989 units. Year-to-date sales for the imports has hit 553,160 units, a 12.4-percent hike.

Another highlight among the imports was the Hyundai brand. It achieved its best-ever July, moving 12,850 new vehicles.

"Despite constrained global supply, demand for Hyundai vehicles remains incredibly strong and has driven our company to record 43 consecutive months of year-over-year sales growth," commented Steve Kelleher, president and chief executive officer of Hyundai Auto Canada Corp.

"A number of vehicles were responsible for last month's performance, including the Sonata mid-size, Tucson compact SUV, and the arrival of new vehicles such as the European-style Elantra GT 5-soor and Elantra Coupe," he continued.

Korean counterpart Kia increased its July sales by 20.4 percent, DesRosiers pointed out.

"The picture from the Korean brands was positive, but understanding the results requires some unpacking," DesRosiers explained.

"Rising star Kia continued to gain in crowded (saturated, some might argue) segments, while Hyundai's seemingly unspectacular performance should be viewed in context," he said, referring to Hyundai's 0.8-percent year-over-year gain. "Not only was 2012 the brand's best July on record, but it comes on the heels of an exceptionally good 2011 showing.

"Both Korean brands are on track to post their best sales years ever," DesRosiers continued.

As for the European brands, most of the automakers "powered through the month" and posted year-over-year improvements, said DesRosiers.

Volkswagen, for instance, "continued their string of consecutive record sales months" and had their strongest-ever July, according to Volkswagen Canada. VW sold 4,807 units in July for a 6.3-percent gain.

"Thanks to their excellent combination of fuel efficiency, quality and great value, our cars and light trucks continue to find new audiences in Canada," stated John White, president and CEO of Volkswagen Group Canada. "We have tailored our product to deliver what the consumer is looking for."

DesRosiers also pointed out that Audi was up 14.1 percent, BMW/Mini climbed 9.2 percent, Land Rover jumped 49.5 percent and Mercedes-Benz/Smart climbed 15.7 percent, also noting that Porsche was up 26.5 percent.

"A mix of solid product lineups, low borrowing costs and relative economic stability helped Audi, BMW/Mini, Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz/smart, Porsche and Volkswagen outperform the total market," he said.

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