Predictions that the Canadian auto market would be flat this year are being reassessed after a 9.9 percent jump in March sales pushed first-quarter volume 9.0 percent above last year.
The March increase, to 141,008 units, raised first-quarter sales to 313,507. Cars accounted for 51.7 percent of March sales, and light trucks for 48.3 percent.
General Motors, Ford and Chrysler reported a sales increase of 7.9 percent for the quarter; Japanese brands showed an increase of 9.7 percent and the European makes were up 23.5 percent.
A resurgent GM boosted its sales 18.6 percent in March and 16.9 percent for the quarter.
Ford sales rose just 0.6 percent in March, but the first quarter was up 9.1 percent.
Chrysler's March sales of cars and light trucks rose 5.0 percent, but its first-quarter total was down 5.3 percent from last year.
Honda/Acura sales were strong in March, bringing their quarterly gain to 23.7 percent. Toyota/Lexus sales dipped 5.7 percent in March and 5.9 percent for the quarter.
Mazda sales rose in March, helping the brand to a 27.3 percent increase for the quarter. Nissan/ Infiniti sales declined in March but were up 6.1 percent for the three months.
Among European manufacturers, Volkswagen, Porsche, Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz and BMW showed strong improvement in the first quarter.