Canada auto sales rise 8%, set record in August

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TORONTO (Reuters) -- Canadian auto sales raced to an all-time record in August as consumers in the country's most populous province rushed back into the market, helping fuel a 8 percent jump in new vehicle sales, an independent industry analyst said.

Strong demand in Ontario and parts of western Canada drove industry sales of 171,560 new vehicles in the month of August, up from 159,004 a year ago, said Dennis DesRosiers of DesRosiers Automotive Consultants.

A 14 percent jump in truck sales offset essentially flat car sales.

Canada's "hot" auto market has set five monthly sales records this year, DesRosiers said in a report, with year-to-date sales up a "spectacular" 5 percent at 1,256,649 vehicles.

In the United States, August sales were the highest for that month in more than a decade, helped by heavy discounting from manufacturers and a strong Labor Day weekend close, as the industry sold at an annualized pace not seen since early 2006.

Canada's top seller in August was Ford Motor Co., which maintained leadership for a fifth consecutive month.

Ford's sales rose 3 percent to 27,988 vehicles. Truck sales climbed 10 percent, to 22,539 vehicles, offsetting a 21 percent drop in car sales, to 5,449 vehicles.

"We look forward to continued momentum in the fall," Ford Canada CEO Dianne Craig said in a statement.

Chrysler Canada said it posted a 22 percent jump in sales, to 26,825 cars and trucks, marking its biggest August sales ever and best year-to-date sales on record.

Truck sales rose 33 percent, to 24,302 vehicles, while car sales dropped 32 percent to 2,523, said Chrysler, a unit of Fiat SpA. Year-to-date, Chrysler Group sales are up 7 percent.

Strong sales of core brands put the company "on pace to have the best year in our 89-year history," said Chrysler Canada COO David Buckingham in a statement.

General Motors of Canada reported a 5 percent August sales increase, to 22,111 vehicles. Truck sales grew 7 percent to 16,089 vehicles, but car sales dipped 1 percent to 6,022 vehicles.

Honda Canada reported a 44 percent jump in August sales of its Honda and Acura brands, to 13,663 vehicles.

Honda unit sales rose 50 percent to 12,081 vehicles, while Acura sales grew 9 percent, to 1,582 vehicles.

Toyota Canada said monthly sales rose 5 percent to 18,487 vehicles, lifted by a 9 percent increase in truck sales to 8,978 vehicles, an all-time August record.

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