TORONTO - Predictions that the Canadian vehicle market will continue to grow in 2001 were given a boost as January sales showed a 4.0 percent increase over last year.
But the news isn't so good for the Big 3. Their market share continued to decline. With January sales at an annualized rate of 1.55 million (matching last year's record), sales for the Big 3 declined 1.2 percent.
General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and the Chrysler group accounted for 68.3 percent of the Canadian market in January, down 3.5 percentage points from last January's 71.8 percent. European brands were off one-tenth of a point at 4.7 percent, and both Japanese and Korean nameplates' slice of the pie increased by 1.8 percentage points, to 22.3 percent for the Japanese and 4.7 percent for the Koreans.
GM was the only Big 3 company to report higher sales in January. Most of the Japanese and European brands sold in Canada were ahead for the month.
Total January sales were 94,844 cars and light trucks. Truck market share continued to decline, falling to 48.6 percent from 49.4 percent last year.
'January sales were very strong, and we are forecasting that 2001 will be the third best year in the past 10 years in Canada,' said GM of Canada President Maureen Kempston-Darkes while reporting a 7.5 percent improvement in January. Truck sales rose 12.6 percent, and car sales were up 3.0 percent.
Things weren't so positive at Ford of Canada, where sales dropped 14.6 percent on a 1.2 percent gain in car sales and a 21.5 percent dive in truck sales. The Chrysler group reported a 3 percent drop in January sales on a 12.9 percent dip in car sales and a 1.1 percent gain in truck sales.
Among Japanese brands Honda, Acura, Isuzu, Toyota, Mazda, Nissan, Subaru and Suzuki reported sales increases in January; Lexus was down. In the European segment, BMW, Land Rover and Volvo were up; Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar and Volkswagen were down. Sales rose for Hyundai and Kia and dipped for Daewoo, the third Korean entry.