Robust November sales all but guarantee a record year – but not for the Koreans

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By Jeremy Sinek

One third. Thirty-three per cent. That’s the measure of the December meltdown that would be needed for car and light-truck sales not to set a new Canadian record in 2013.

With a robust 6.5-per cent November gain in the books, year-to-date sales now stand at 1.63 million. That’s about 73,000 units behind the current record of 1.70 million set in 2002. With December 2012 sales at 109,000  – actually a little below the 10-year December average of 113,000 – it would take a highly improbable implosion for Canada’s auto industry to miss the new mark.

For some automakers, 2013 is already a record with a month still to go.     

The Ford F-150’s 11-month tally of 112,263, for example, has already vaulted it past its full-year record set last year.

With the November results in, Subaru Canada has already eclipsed its previous full-year sales record (a feat that Porsche, incidentally, had already achieved by October).

Toyota Canada has a new record in the books for the truck side of its portfolio (though it’s hard not to notice that the Ford F-150 alone found more customers by far than all Toyota trucks combined – 78,282) and by November’s end,

Chrysler Canada was already ahead of its full-year 2012 result.

All these pale alongside Jaguar Land Rover Canada’s 2013 results; the group is 30 per cent of its 2012 pace while the Jaguar brand alone – transformed by the availability of AWD on its sedans -- is up 98 per cent.

Contributing to Chrysler’s 13-per cent boost in November was the new Jeep Cherokee, which recorded an impressive 1,285 sales in its first full month; its platform-mate, the Dodge Dart compact, had its best sales month since its launch in July 2012.

Chrysler was thus the driving force behind Detroit’s 4.7-per cent gain in November, as Ford and GM each edged up by around 1 per cent only. But Ford still led the market for the month and is cumulatively far enough in front of Chrysler to be a shoo-in for full-year leadership.

November sales records were reported by BMW, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Porsche, Subaru and Volkswagen. And even if most other automakers didn’t set new November records, they still grew their sales.

One obvious exception to that was Suzuki, down 75 per cent as it winds down its auto sales in Canada.  

More significantly, the only other automakers to report lower sales for the month were the Korean siblings, Hyundai and Kia. That continues a trend that sees the Koreans’ combined sales down 1.4 per cent year-to-date in a market up 4.0 per cent. Blame that mostly on Kia, down 5.7 per cent while Hyundai YTD sales are ahead 1.1 per cent.

Among top-selling models, the Ford F-150 is unassailable at the top of the chart. Consider this: although the F-150 is just one out of 281 nameplates tracked by CAW, that one model accounted for one out of every 15 vehicles sold through November this year.

Most other Top 10 rankings are also pretty much settled, except for tenth spot: after November, it was occupied by the Toyota RAV4, but the Chevrolet Cruze and the Honda CR-V are both close enough to possibly turf the Toyota when the final numbers are in.