Ford stands on sidelines while market goes on a record spree in May


By Jeremy Sinek

If Ford of Canada has plans on repeating as Canada’s top-selling automaker in 2014, it needs to put pedal to the metal. In a red-hot overall auto sales month, Ford saw its sales sag by 2.3 per cent while archrival Chrysler posted its best single month in its entire 89-year history.

Although Ford still (barely) outsold Chrysler for the month, year-to-date its Windsor-based rival still has a comfortable cushion in first place. At this point last year, Ford’s YTD sales stood about 5,500 units ahead of Chrysler; this year, Ford is 6,500 units behind.

May’s performance also made Ford the spoiler for Detroit; while Chrysler advanced 7.9 per cent and GM surged 11.8 per cent, Detroit’s net combined 5.1-per cent gain represented a further loss of market share as the offshore-based brands grew their combined sales 6.1 per cent.

Partly boosted by one extra selling day, the total market grew 5.7 per cent to 195,571 cars and light trucks. That was a May record, and May traditionally being the biggest month of the year, that likely makes May 2014 the biggest auto sales month ever in Canadian history.  

It beat the previous 10-year average by almost 17 per cent. So far this year, every month has outperformed the year-ago month, and the year-to-date total now stands 2.9 per cent ahead of last year`s pace.

Even more than usual, May’s growth was driven by light trucks (up 12.2 per cent) at the expense of passenger cars (down 1.8 per cent). What made May a little different, though, was that while compact SUVs still contributed to the truck growth as usual, large pickups were also back in the game. Combined Detroit big-pickup sales grew 6.9 per cent while their nearest import challenger, the Toyota Tundra, spiked by a spectacular 65-per cent.  

And that was not a flash in the pan by Tundra: its year-to-date sales are also up by 65 per cent. Boosted too by record May sales of its RAV4 compact SUV, Toyota’s May truck sales were an all-time record for the brand. Besides Chrysler Canada, the Jeep, Subaru and Porsche brands also reported any-month record sales.

First deliveries of Porsche’s new Macan compact SUV helped Porsche sell more than 500 units for the first time ever in a single month in Canada.  

The Macan (104 units sold) wasn’t the only debutant in May. Volkswagen reported its first sales of the redesigned Golf (all GTI models) and BMW sold 22 copies of the i3 electric city car. The new Nissan Micra found 877 buyers in its first full month. Jaguar F-Type sales more than tripled, as the new coupe version joined the roadster that debuted the same month last year.

Among individual nameplates, any-month record sales were claimed by (in no particular order) the Ram pickup, Jeep Wrangler, Ford Explorer, Subaru Forester, Mazda CX-5, Mercedes Sprinter, Nissan Rogue and Nissan Leaf.
Also of note in May, Toyota Corolla sales grew 11 per cent and propelled it past the Hyundai Elantra (down 10 per cent) into second spot in year-to-date passenger-car sales. But Honda Civic responded with an 18-per cent boost to keep its car sales crown secure for now.