TORONTO -- Canadian auto sales slumped among the major automakers last month, according to figures released on Wednesday, as cautious consumers found little motivation to buy new vehicles.
Analysts said headline-making oil prices coupled with high insurance costs were partly to blame for deterring some consumers from showrooms.
"The traditional safety valve of consumer incentives and high leasing rates is coming back to haunt the market," said Dennis Desrosiers, an independent industry consultant.
"The theory with these safety valves is that you steal sales from the future with great pricing. Well, at some point the future becomes today."
Desrosiers, who noted that extra sales from a year or two ago may have been sales that could occur now, described total monthly sales for the industry as "dismal."
Total sales were down 6.7 percent in August compared with the same month last year. On the year to date, sales are down 4.9 percent.
General Motors of Canada, the country's biggest automaker, said total monthly sales fell 11.4 percent to 40,731 vehicles in August.
Car sales were down 7.6 percent and light truck sales -- which include minivans and SUVs -- declined 15.2 percent over the same month last year.
DaimlerChrysler Canada reported a 3.2 percent decline in total sales to 14,523. A 7.9 percent retreat in truck sales offset a 13.7 percent gain in car sales.
Ford Motor of Canada said total sales fell 11.9 percent to 16,127 units. Truck sales were off 10.3 percent while car sales fell 16.7 percent.
Japan's biggest automaker, Toyota Canada, which has been on a record-setting pace all year, said its total sales stumbled last month, falling 5.2 percent to 14,700 vehicles.