By Jeremy Sinek
In recent years it hasn’t been unusual for Chrysler to top the sales charts in the first couple of months – usually by a thin margin.
Then Ford would hit its stride and power past Chrysler in March, never to look back for the balance of the year.
This year, however, Windsor is giving Oakville a harder time. It has taken Ford until April to top the charts for the first time, and then only barely. And whereas normally Ford would by now be in front year-to-date, this year it is still some 7,000 units in arrears of Chrysler.
Put another way, Chrysler’s YTD market share has gone from 15.8 per cent to 16.3 per cent while Ford’s has dipped from 16.2 per cent to 15 per cent.
Meanwhile, with GM going nowhere, Detroit’s combined grip on the market continues to weaken. Total Canadian car and light truck sales grew four per cent to an April record but Detroit advanced only 1.5 per cent.
Detroit passenger-car sales were especially weak, down almost eight per cent, mainly because modest gains by GM and Ford were swamped by a massive decline in Chrysler car sales, albeit from a particularly strong year-ago month.
Blame much of Windsor’s car-sales weakness on its midsize sedans. Supplies of the discontinued Dodge Avenger have all but run dry, while Chrysler 200 sales plunged 58 per cent during the changeover to the all-new 2015 model coming to market this quarter.
It says a lot for Chrysler’s strength in trucks that even with car sales down 57 per cent in April, its total sales advanced 5.2 per cent to its highest April total since 1989.
On the truck side, minivans are making a comeback (Town & Country as well as Grand Caravan), the Jeep Wrangler achieved an all-time any-month record in April, and of course there’s the incremental volume from the new Jeep Cherokee. Total Jeep sales in April were also a many-month record.
Not to mention the Ram pickup, which got outsold by the rival GM pickups for the first time this year, but still had its best month ever to help it retain a comfortable cushion over the GM trucks in YTD sales.
Elsewhere among the top-selling nameplates, another shock upset in April saw the Toyota Corolla surge to the top in passenger-car sales, while the Honda Civic that traditionally holds the title slipped to third behind the Hyundai Elantra.
For the Hyundai to outsell the Honda is not without precedent, but Corolla? That rare achievement owed as much to a 14 per cent slump by Civic as to Corolla’s own 21 per cent surge. Providing further cause for Civic unrest, the Mazda3 and Chevrolet Cruze both grew their sales in April, the latter featuring in the Top 10 for the second month running.
Also knocking on the door of the Top 10 is the Volkswagen Jetta, which helped propel its brand to its best month ever in Canada. Porsche also posted all-time record months – and that was still before the arrival of its new Macan compact SUV – as well as by Subaru. Two new cars that did make their debuts during April were the all-new Audi A3 (173 sold) and the Nissan Micra (201).