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Global auto sales continue to strengthen in 2017: Scotiabank

Luxury cars and trucks post double-digit advances for February in Canada.


TORONTO — Luxury vehicles drove up Canadian automotive sales in February following global car sales moving higher in January, according to the Scotiabank Economics global auto report.

Global purchases advanced 3% higher than a year ago as volumes in developing markets began 2017 with the strongest gain in nearly four years, excluding China. Most automakers reported lower sales there due to an increase in the sales tax applicable on small vehicles with 1.6 L or smaller engines.

February data points to ongoing strength across North America. The report shows purchases in Canada exceeded the annualized 2 million units for the second consecutive month, climbing to a record high for February.

The improvement was led by a 16% year-over-year surge in luxury cars and trucks that posted double-digit advances.

“The hot luxury auto market in Canada has accounted for nearly 60% of the year-to-date increase in overall volumes in the country this year, which is five times its normal share,” said Carlos Gomes, Scotiabank’s senior economist and auto industry specialist.

He said the sales growth was concentrated in BC and Ontario, the fastest-growing provincial economies.

In the US, car and light truck sales totalled an annualized 17.5 million units in February, in-line with the previous month’s performance and the 2016 total.

Retail activity continues to move higher even as fleet volumes have weakened.

The report says automakers will ramp up production to record highs in the second quarter. Rising vehicle assemblies are estimated to add an annualized 0.6 percentage points to economic growth in the April-June period, helping to lift overall US growth to 2.3% in 2017, up from 1.6% in 2016.

Click here for a copy of the Global Auto Report.

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