TORONTO - Strong demand for light trucks and import-brand cars helped the Canadian market to a 3.4 percent gain in April.
Truck sales rose 8.5 percent from a year earlier, and car sales fell 0.3 percent overall. For the year to date, the Canadian market is ahead 1.5 percent on sales of 425,387 vehicles.
Among the Big 3, Chrysler was alone in posting higher sales in April, up 2.1 percent from a year earlier on the strength of record truck sales. Truck sales jumped 16.6 percent, buoyed by minivan incentives, but cars were off 20.4 percent.
General Motors was off 5.9 percent for the month, weighed down by a 10.1 percent slide in car sales. Trucks finished only slightly ahead of the same month a year ago.
Despite strong sales of the Windstar minivan, driven by a no-interest-financing incentive program, Ford was off 4.8 percent in April. Trucks edged up 1 percent, but car sales were off 14.5 percent. In an effort to boost lagging car sales, Ford has extended its no-interest-financing incentive plan to the Ford Contour, Escort and Escort ZX2 and Mercury Mystique.
For the year to date, Chrysler is up 12.9 percent, General Motors is off 7.3 percent and Ford is down 9.4 percent.
Import brands fared well during April, increasing their share of the car market to 32.4 percent from just over 29 percent a year ago.
Among import brands, Toyota/Lexus was up 42 percent in April; Honda rose 8.4 percent; Volkswagen, up 49.2 percent; Nissan/Infiniti, up 25.3 percent; Subaru, up 42.6 percent; and Mercedes-Benz, 47.7 percent.
Volvo, Land Rover and Jaguar sales declined.
For the year to date, imports are up a combined 12.1 percent.