Unseasonably hot November sales bake in a new market leader


Jeremy Sinek

And that’s just about a wrap.

No, the full-year numbers still aren’t in yet, but after another sizzler in November, some things are already locked in.

By year’s end FCA is all but guaranteed to snap Ford’s five-year streak as Canada’s top-selling automaker. And with January to November sales already exceeding Canada’s second-best full year ever, it’s a sure bet that 2015 is going to go out on yet another record.

November’s overall 4.7-per cent sales spurt is all the more remarkable considering that the count was based on two selling days fewer than the same month last year. It brings the year-to-date total to 1.77 million and raises the prospect that full-year sales could top 1.9 million for the first time.

To listen to Ford, you might not know it has slipped to second in overall sales. Spinning the positive, the automaker’s sales release trumpeted another year for Ford as Canada’s favourite automotive brand. But despite a growth year for Lincoln, Oakville’s total sales lag Chrysler by more than 12,000 units, with a month still to go.

Meanwhile, General Motors did an end run around both its Detroit rivals to achieve a second consecutive month as sales leader. Still, its robust 13-per cent surge in November still leaves it 14,000 units behind Ford, which grew 3.1 per cent.

FCA, as it has done so many other times this year, edged ahead just enough (0.6 per cent) to keep its growth streak going – now at 72 months.
Thanks mainly to GM, the combined efforts of the Detroit 3 (up 5.5 per cent) outpaced the rest of the world (4.2 per cent). But that’s likely too little, too late to save Detroit from bleeding more market share over the full year.

Meanwhile, almost two of every three vehicles sold in November (65.4 per cent) were light trucks (though arguably the term truck is increasingly debased when it includes growing numbers of small crossovers such as the Mazda CX-3, Honda HR-V and Subaru XV Crosstrek).

Only two automakers didn’t grow sales in November, one being Volkswagen, which given the TDI emissions brouhaha, did well to hold its slide at only 3.4 per cent.

The other backslider was Mercedes-Benz. In part that was because smart sales dropped steeply from an unusually strong year-ago month. As well, the luxury brand sold out of its GLK compact CUV before its replacement, the all-new GLC, became readily available. Reportedly, launch of the GLC was delayed by EPA certification issues triggered by the Volkswagen diesel scandal.

Among the top-selling nameplates, most of the rankings now look set; the only contest still to be decided is whether Hyundai Elantra or Toyota Corolla will be the second-best-selling passenger car behind Honda Civic.

As of November, the Hyundai was ahead by 750 units. Ford’s F-Series continues to have a lock on the truck-sales title, even though its sales have slipped in 2015 while those of the competition have grown.