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Auto recovery is gaining momentum

Canadian automobile sales grew 3.6% in January from a year ago, a signal that momentum is building as the auto industry slowly recovers from the recession.


February 2, 2011
by CANADIAN PRESS

TORONTO: Canadian automobile sales grew 3.6% in January from a year ago, a signal that momentum is building as the auto industry slowly recovers from the recession.

Canadians bought 84,509 vehicles this January compared with 81,581 last year, according to auto industry analyst DesRosiers. However, it seems consumers are beginning to favour larger vehicles again as light truck sales grew 13.2% while car sales fell nine per cent.

Car sales dipped last year, while US automakers have done well with drivers’ love of the SUV and pickup trucks, which typically carry bigger margins than cars

Ford Canada reported its best January sales since 2000 as it bucked the overall trend with car sales up 19% and truck sales up 25% over last year, while several competitors set new records for the month.

Ford said January sales overall grew 24% to 14,324 vehicles compared with 11,553 last year. January also marked its 20th consecutive month of year-over-year retail sales gains.

General Motors was the top-selling automakers in January with Canadian sales of core brands totalling 14,542 vehicles, up 5% from last year.

Strong sales were led by an 11% gain in retail – individual showroom sales as opposed to fleet sales – as consumers begin to grow more confident about large purchases.

Chrysler Canada reported Tuesday that January sales grew 14 per cent year over year, its 14th consecutive month of sales growth. It reported sales of 13,587 vehicles last month, compared to 11,940 a year earlier.

Last month’s strong sales figures come after the world’s biggest automakers reported better-than-expected full-year sales for 2010.

“For 2011, we’re expecting moderate industry growth of about 2%,” said David Mondragon, president and CEO of Ford Canada.

Volkswagen, Subaru, Hyundai and Kia all reported record January sales in Canada.

Toyota Canada reported sales of 8,161 cars, trucks and SUVs in January, down 1% from a year ago, as the world’s largest automaker continues to struggle with its tarnished reputation due to a string of recalls and negative publicity.

Last week, Toyota, the number one automaker in the world announced it was recalling 11,700 vehicles in Canada for fuel leaks, part of a broader recall of 1.7 million cars worldwide.

The move is the latest in a ballooning number of quality problems that could add another dent to its tarnished reputation in the crucial North American market.

In the US, nearly all big car companies reported double-digit gains for the month, a sign that the slow recovery in auto sales that began last year remains on track.

© The Canadian Press