2012 marks great year for German, Korean automakers


Though 2012 did not break all-time sales records, as once theorized during soaring summer months, the annual performance was a strong one. Total sales for the year hit 1,675,675 units, up 5.7 per cent from 2011, but still fell a might shy of the 2002 record of 1.703 million.

There was plenty of joy to go around, particularly among German and Korean automakers.

Among all the solid numbers in 2012, there was no doubt that Audi sales stood out. Proof positive that the four-ringed juggernaut had a banner year in 2012, DesRosiers and Associates called Audi a “barrier smasher” in its year-end sales analysis,

Audi dealers saw “exactly” 20,000 units drive away from their stores in 2012. That amounted to an 18.6-per cent increase over 2011 and the largest percentage increase over of all the luxury brands.

BMW moved over 31,000 units marking a jump if eight per cent and a best ever year. MINI chipped in sales of over 6,300 or up 22.3 per cent over 2011 and a 10th anniversary high.

Porsche sold over 3,000 units last year – up 35.6 per cent. The automaker credited a stronger than ever demand for the Cayenne and Panamera. Boxster sales were rose to 277 units from 151 the year before or 83.4 per cent.

Last but not least, Mercedes-Benz did very well indeed with nearly 17,000 passenger cars along with over 13,000 luxury light trucks (SUVs/CRVs) sold. The automaker even took time to point out Sprinter sales were up over 21 per cent to over 3,000 units.

In the mainstream, VW called its results – over 59,000 sold – “a milestone … the single best sales year.”

Sales leaders included the Jetta with nearly 27,000 and the Golf with over 13,000.

DesRosiers also saluted the Korean automakers and for good reason. Kia Canada boasted 77,800 sales in 2102 or a 19.5-per cent hike over 2011.

V-P Maria Soklis called the effort “relentless” and “industry-leading” and promised more in 2013 with “several all-new and redesigned vehicle launches …”

For Hyundai Canada it was a year of bests: best January ever; best February ever; best March ever; etc.

It also tallied the best annual sales record of over 136,000, up 5.4 per cent over last year. Perhaps the most noteworthy Hyundai performance came in with its two best-ever months of November (10,101) and December 7,863) as they came shortly after an U.S. Environmental Protection Agency audit revealed that the window stickers on some Hyundai and Kia models carried overstated fuel consumption ratings.

By any measure, it is safe to say that 2012 was the year that the European and Korean brands took the market by storm.            

By contrast, DesRosiers called the Japanese totals “spotty” and well below the halcyon sales days of the past decade.

Toyota/Lexus/Scion did hold down fourth spot in the Canadian market with sales of 192,058 units, an increase of 18.4 per cent after “depressed” sales levels in 2011.

Although the analyst called the totals “great” for the Toyota group, they were well below levels 2007 and 2009 when they were consistently in the 200K unit range.

Similarly, Honda/Acura was in fifth position with sales of 148,712 units, up 20.8 percent from 2011 – a very good year but well below 2005 and 2008.  

Still, the automakers were grappling with a tsunami, and in Toyota’s case, sudden-acceleration claims that lead to a US$1.3 billion settlement.

Or was this the new normal for the two automakers now that the Koreans are here to stay? Only time will tell.

Lost in the shuffle is Ford Canada with sales totals of nearly 276,000 marking the Blue Oval’s third year in a row as Canada’s leading vehicle retailer.

Chrysler, too, had much to celebrate. It moved up to second place, selling over 242,000 units or 5.5 per cent more than 2011. Still, DesRosiers took a little fizz out of the champagne by pointing out that holding 14.5 per cent of the market here was good, but “at one time in the recent past, Chrysler held over 20 per cent…”

General Motors came in third place with sales of nearly 227,000.

“GM’s sales peaked in 2002 at 519,027, meaning that final 2012 results were represent less than half of what the company was moving a decade ago … With a market share of 13.5 per cent, 2013 represents GM’s smallest slice of the Canadian pie in over 100 years.”

Overall, though, there is plenty of optimism.

“Most importantly, the Canadian market still hasn’t reached its potential. We believe that 2013 should see increased light vehicle sales, potentially surpassing the export-inflated 2002 high water mark. All that’s needed is a two or three per cent increase, which could be provided by a combination of pent-up demand from the recessionary markets of 2009 to 2011, plus regular growth in the market’s absolute size.”