TORONTO -- New-vehicle sales in Canada continued at a blistering pace in May, increasing 10.4 percent over a year earlier to an annual rate of 1.69 million units.
The gain was the seventh double-digit increase in eight months. Unlike prior months, when import brands accounted for most of the gains, the Big 3 were the big winners in May.
Despite a slight dip by Ford Motor Co., combined Big 3 sales surged 12.9 percent over the year-ago month, compared with a 6.7 percent increase for import brands.
General Motors sales soared 21.1 percent in May, with cars up 20 percent and trucks up 22.5 percent. For the year to date, GM is up 14.9 percent.
"We are smashing sales records here," said Marc Comeau, vice president of sales, service and marketing at General Motors of Canada Ltd.
"We sold more trucks in May than in any other month in our history. We had our best May since 1989. And we sold more cars in a month than we have since June 1991. At this rate, 2002 could be our best year in the past decade."
Chrysler sales rose 12.3 percent as a 19.4 percent increase in trucks outweighed a 3.4 percent dip in cars. Chrysler is up 5 percent so far this year.
Ford Motor continued to struggle. It was off 0.9 percent for the month, weighed down by a 13.6 percent decline in car sales. Trucks were up 7 percent. Ford Motor is up 3.9 percent for the first five months of the year.
Sales by Japanese brands rose 7.6 percent in May, led by Nissan with a 13.2 percent increase. Toyota was up 11.5 percent; Suzuki was up 11.4 percent; Mazda sales rose 8.6 percent; Subaru was up 5.2 percent; and Honda had a gain of 1.2 percent.
European-brand sales rose 6.5 percent, although volume-leader Volks-wagen was off 8.1 percent. In contrast, luxury marques were up sharply. Land Rover surged 82.4 percent, albeit from a small base; Mercedes-Benz rose 41.1 percent; BMW, 35.7 percent; and Jaguar, 30 percent.
Hyundai sales increased 5.3 percent, but Kia, its wholly owned subsidiary, slipped 2.2 percent for the month.