TORONTO - Despite a sharp jump in gasoline prices that took an immediate bite out of truck sales, new-vehicle sales in Canada eked out a 1 percent gain in February.
Dennis DesRosiers, principal of DesRosiers Automotive Consultants Inc. in Toronto, said higher gasoline prices play into the hands of import brands, all of which are stronger than the Big 3 in cars.
Despite the February gain, sales for the first two months are down 7.4 percent compared with a year earlier. Truck sales declined 2.4 percent in February, while car sales increased 4 percent.
Big 3 sales were off 5.2 percent, compared with a 12 percent increase for Japanese nameplates, 8.8 percent for the Europeans and 7.3 percent for Korean makes.
General Motors was off 8.8 percent, with cars down 13.3 percent and trucks off 4.4 percent from a record month a year earlier.
GM is off 23.1 percent so far this year.
Chrysler was down 5.2 percent in February as a 23.0 percent jump in car sales was outweighed by a 15.1 percent drop in trucks.
Year-to-date sales are off 14.9 percent.
Ford sales were up 0.8 percent in February.
Trucks rose 1.1 percent, but car sales were flat.
Ford is off 2.9 percent for the year to date.
Infiniti, up 152.9 percent over a year earlier, posted the largest percentage increase among Japanese nameplates.
Nissan was up 18.3 percent, and Honda rose 9.2 percent, but Acura was off 15.5 percent. Lexus gained 0.7 percent.
Audi led the European brands with a 16.8 percent gain, while Volkswagen sales rose 15.4 percent, Jaguar 13 percent, BMW 12 percent and Volvo 9 percent.
Kia sales increased 8.5 percent and Hyundai, 8.4 percent.