An extra selling day sustains the growth streak in June

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BY JEREMY SINEK

Auto sales did not exactly stall in June, but the numbers behind the numbers do hint at some loss of momentum. This June’s sales count was based on 25 selling days, compared with 24 last year. That is four per cent more selling days than in 2014, yet total sales only rose 1.2 per cent. Average daily sales dipped by 2.6 per cent.

Then again, it was still a June record, and the tally of just less than 178,000 beat the previous-10-year June average by a convincing 9.7 per cent. Year-to-date sales at the halfway mark stand 2.7 per cent ahead of last year’s record pace.

While FCA sales edged up only 0.8 per cent, Windsor was able to extend its year-to-date sales lead thanks to a 13-per cent slump by Ford. The Oakville automaker trumpeted all-time record sales for the newly redesigned, Oakville-built Ford Edge, but sales of its two biggest sellers – F Series pickup and Escape – swooned by 16 and 19 per cent respectively.

While the Escape’s fading fortunes could be blamed on its age in a segment full of fresh new rivals, the F-Series is all-new for 2015. And June was not a one-month blip: it was the third month in a row that F-truck sales have fallen, and year-to-date sales are down 5.1 per cent.

Meanwhile, sales of GM full-size pickups are surging, over and above the added volume from GM’s new Colorado/Canyon midsize pickups. Combined sales of the pickup lines helped propel GM Canada to a 15-per cent gain in June. Yet even that was not enough to get Oshawa out of the Big-3 basement – or enough to save Detroit from a combined 0.8-per cent sales dip.

The offshore brands’ 2.9-per cent advance was all down to the Japanese and the Europeans, both ahead by nine per cent while combined sales of Hyundai and Kia plunged 18 per cent.

Year-to-date, the Europeans have been the big gainers, up 17 per cent. Detroit is effectively standing still at 0.3 per cent, the Japanese-based automakers have grown 3.9 per cent and the Koreans are in the hole by 3.7 per cent.

There are no shocks among the top-selling models, but some long-standing segment-leader dynasties are starting to look vulnerable. At the top of the charts, Ford F-Series is declining while its GM and Ram rivals gain ground; Honda Civic sales are shrinking while Toyota Corolla’s are growing; and a surging Toyota RAV4 is closing in on the fading Ford Escape.

Outside the top 10, the Mercedes C-Class has displaced the BMW 3 Series as top-selling luxury car, the Ford Edge has reclaimed intermediate-SUV segment leadership from Kia Sorento, and in luxury SUV the Lexus RX has slipped from first to third, behind the Audi Q5 and Acura RDX.

By segment, the market seems to indicate parallel trends towards, on the one hand, sensible utility vehicles, and on the other, self-indulgent sports and luxury vehicles.

Compact SUVs continue to outdistance compact cars as the new largest segment while substantial growth is shown by pickups, large SUVs and large vans (where the new Ford Transit is hard on the heels of GM’s Express/Savana twins).

Affordable-luxury cars and sports cars led growth on the self-indulgent side, while both trends come together in buoyant luxury-SUV sales.

The losing segments? Subcompact, compact and intermediate cars, minivans, and – the one anomaly in the trends – high-end luxury sedans.