July sales drop nearly 5 per cent


Light vehicle sales were down by 4.9 percent in July to 141,472 compared to 148,756 in July 2010.

Car sales were down 6.1 per cent to 63,379 units from 67,532 a year ago, while light truck sales dipped 3.9 per cent to 78,093 from 81,224.

Though analysts are pointing in multiple directions for the downturn, Japanese supply issues, economic concerns and high gas prices remain the strong culprits for drop in new vehicle sales.

The “mixed bag” of winning OEMs in July included Audi, BMW, Hyundai, Kia, Volkswagen, which all had gains in the double-digit range over July last year.

Domestic automakers were two out of three as Chrysler and Ford continued to rise (4.5 and 5 per cent, respectively) while General Motors of Canada faltered, dropping 14.9 per cent for the month and down 1.3 per cent year-to-date.

“This may be disappointing but GM has said all along that they would be happy with a 15 to 16 market share number post their restructuring and this is exactly where they are at,” DesRosiers said.

Ford Canada sales of 27,344 vehicles helped it retain its top volume spot and marked its best July in 32 years. Chrysler Canada was toppled even older records as its 23,385 sales made for the best July in the automaker's history.

Honda and Toyota continue to be handcuffed with supply issues both had poor months down in the double-digit range.

“We suspect that as the Japanese fill their supply lines this will off-set some of the negative economic indicators developing for the second half of the year,” said Denis DesRosiers of DesRosiers Automotive Consultants Inc.

“We forecast the market to be up only 0.7 percent on the year and it is tracking slight ahead of our estimate. We’re going to hold our forecast for now since there is so much uncertainty out there and more downside threat than upside opportunity.” 

The SAAR for July was 1.61 million down quite a bit from the June SAAR.

Taking a closer look at the chart, DesRosiers said the market has been “pretty well flat” for almost a year and a half at 1.6 million units following the economic crises in 2008.

There were some good months, he noted, adding they were usually incentive driven, which were always followed by some lean months.

“The sad part is that if you did an analysis of the fundamental of the Canadian market and what the market potential should be you can build a case that the Canadian market should be up in the 1.8 million range and possibly even higher. So we can be pleased with a 1.6 million tracking but we are still very much below where the market should be.”

Kia Canada Inc. made it 31 straight months of growth with its best-ever month in July with 6,383 new vehicles sold, up 12.9 per cent.

Hyundai Auto Canada Corp. set yet another new company record for July, with
sales up 11 per cent to 12,753 units. Last month also marked the third consecutive month Hyundai was tops among import brands.

Even the Europeans were getting in on the action as BMW Group Canada and Audi posted sales boosts of 14.1 and 14.2 per cent respectively.

Toyota Canada continued to fall as a 17.9 per cent slide (11,231 units) had them clinging on to the number four volume spot.

Toyota’s issue was shared by most Japanese automakers – Subaru down 18 per cent; Honda down 24.8 per cent; Nissan down 7.6 per cent and Suzuki sales dropping 51 per cent – as the inventory pipeline continues to suffer from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that heavily disrupted automotive production in Japan.

- With files from The Canadian Press