Modest sales growth expected for 2016

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Despite another record-setting performance in the new car sales market in 2015, there is still a little room for more.

So says Jeff Schuster, senior V-P with LMC Automotive, who predicted we would see a slight jump from the near 1.91 million units retailed in 2015 to as many as 1.93 million sold this time next year.

While those predictions came with loads of caveats including oil prices, unemployment, disposable income levels and incentive action, Canada’s automotive dealers could be staring down the barrel of four consecutive record sales years if all goes well.

It should come as no surprise that much of that momentum would be propelled by SUVs as automakers continue to pump out small and medium options to meet customer demand.

SUVs are expected to make up 46 per cent of new entries in 2017 and as much as 50 per cent of new or refreshed models by 2020. Such activity would be more of the same from this year as the non-premium SUV market took an additional by 1.6 per cent market share in 2015. That segment currently comprises over 30 per cent of vehicles sold.

Schuster says pickups should also continue to grow – thanks to a seemingly insatiable appetite and the new additions to the midsize pickup segment courtesy of General Motors.

Of course, taking Newton’s third law into account (for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction), certain segments will have to feel the pinch.

Expecting volume drops in the months and years to come are large and midsize vans, small cars and compact midsize premium vehicles.

As for specific brands, LMC’s crystal ball sees Ford and GM fighting for top spot in the next fear years with only the Blue Oval besting the projected industry growth of 2.2 per cent.

He says the Japanese Big 3 each has additional upside potential, as do Kia, Hyundai and Nissan.

The big question mark remains Volkswagen as the world waits and watches as it tries to extricate itself from a PR nightmare, fix millions of vehicles worldwide, win back customers and manage to put out compelling product while slashing development budgets.