TORONTO - With one-third of the year over, Canadian vehicle sales were down 6.2 percent from 2002. But don't panic.
"April last year was very strong, and 2002 was a dream year," says Canadian industry consultant Dennis DesRosiers of the 9.2 percent slide in sales in April. "The first quarter had some difficult issues to deal with, including the war and SARS. No one in the industry should have been expecting an increase."
DesRosiers predicts sales for the full year will finish behind 2002, but not by much. He puts the total at 1.65 million units. That would be down from last year's record 1.7 million.
Big 3 brands were hit hard in April, with Ford sales down 18.3 percent, General Motors off 16.3 percent and Chrysler down 15.1 percent. Their combined sales were off 16.5 percent.
Separately, GM's April car sales slumped 19.3 percent, while truck sales tumbled 12.6 percent, with total year-to-date numbers off 15.6 percent. Ford's April truck sales were down 17.3 percent and car sales were down 20.7 percent, leading to a 6.4 percent nosedive for the first four months. At Chrysler, April car sales were off 15.9 percent and truck sales were down 14.7 percent. Chrysler's year-to-date sales are down 14.5 percent.
Sales of Korean nameplates were up 4.6 percent in April. The Japanese were up by 1.4 percent. European brands slipped 2.2 percent.
Year-to-date, the North American brands have seen sales totals slashed 13.0 percent, while the Japanese were ahead 4.8 percent, the Koreans 5.1 percent and the Europeans 3.3 percent.
Toyota rose 5.4 percent, and its Lexus luxury division rose 31.3 percent. Nissan increased 2.6 percent, and its Infiniti brand was up 53.8 percent. The four were the only Japanese brands showing increases for the month. All four say that April was a record-setting month.
Newcomer Mitsubishi sold 1,209 vehicles in April.