Canadian new-vehicle sales fell 3.9 percent during the third quarter as automakers grappled with the effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent economic slowdown it wrought.
Automakers sold 503,114 new vehicles during July, August and September, according to the Automotive News Data Center.
Despite the ongoing pandemic and sales dip, the heads of several Canadian automakers expressed an optimistic outlook for the new-vehicle market as they reported third-quarter sales.
While a majority of companies posted declines, a handful managed to post gains.
Ford Motor Co., for example, reported a substantial sales increase and led all automakers in Canada sales by volume.
On a monthly basis, DesRosiers Automotive Consultants Inc. reported September sales were up 2.4 percent over the same month last year. Monthly sales are now estimates because the vast majority of automakers have moved to quarterly reporting. DesRosiers says automakers sold 169,876 light vehicles in September.
However, on a year-to-date basis, sales remain down 23.6 percent at 1,151,599 units, according to the data center.
David Adams, the head of the Global Automakers of Canada, which represents the Canadian interests of overseas automakers, says the final three months remain unpredictable. His organization is forecasting annual sales to be down more than 20 percent to 1.475 million.
“Where we end up at the end of the year is largely going to depend on consumer confidence and how strong sales are through the fall season,” Adams said in a statement. “The wild card is the second COVID wave and whether or not we will see dealerships in certain jurisdictions close for a period of time as they did with the first wave and/or consumers limiting their movements.
“However, I would like to think that dealers across the country have proven that they are very adaptable to making in-dealership transactions as safe and as frictionless as possible, buttressed by enhanced on-line and digital tools,”
Here’s a look at how some of the automakers fared during the third quarter:
Ford Canada credits “consumer optimism” for its year-over-year sales increase of 8.5 percent during the third quarter.
The automaker sold 84,061 new vehicles during the quarter, up from the 70,706 during the same period last year.
Ford’s total led all automakers during the quarter.
“While we are still in uncertain times, the automotive industry has rebounded from the early days of the pandemic, with consumers choosing vehicles from the freshened Ford lineup more than any other brand in the third quarter,” Ford of Canada CEO Dean Stoneley said in a statement.
By brand, Lincoln sales were up 6.6 percent to 2,519 while Ford brand sales rose 8.5 percent to 81,542.
The Ford F-Series, Canada’s top-selling pickup for 54 consecutive years, posted record third-quarter sales. F-Series deliveries increased 15 percent to 28,515.
There were also sales increases across the Ford and Lincoln lineups, from the Ford Explorer and Ford Expedition to the Ford Mustang sports coupe and luxury crossovers, including the Lincoln Aviator and Lincoln Corsair.
The Ford Explorer, after a less-than-impressive launch, might be finding its footing. Sales were up 162 percent to 5,696 in the quarter. Mustang sales were up 13.6 percent to 1,747.
Ford also delivered a best-ever quarter in commercial vehicle sales, cementing its position as Canada’s commercial vehicle leader.
“Looking ahead to the arrivals of the all-new Ford F-150, the all-new, all-electric Ford Mustang Mach-E, and the all-new Ford Bronco Sport in dealer showrooms, there is a lot more for customers to get excited about,” Stoneley said.
General Motors Canada saw its third-quarter sales sink 10.5 percent compared with the same period a year ago. However, a handful of high-volume vehicles managed to post gains.
The automaker sold 63,260 new vehicles during July, August and September, down from the 70,706 it sold during the same period last year.
While a vast majority of models saw sales decline — some by double-digit percentages — a handful of models bucked the trend.
Chevrolet Silverado sales were up nearly 3 percent to 14,536 units but GMC Sierra sales dipped slightly more than 1 percent to 14,568.
Among crossovers and utility vehicles, the Chevrolet Blazer saw a gain of 17 percent to 1,342 units while Chevy Traverse sales climbed 12 percent to 1,953.
The Cadillac XT6 increased 298 percent to 553 units and Corvette sales gained 18 percent to 712.
“With RV and boat sales booming in Canada due to COVID-19 limitations on traditional vacations and air travel, dealers reported strong demand for vehicles with utility and hauling capability, and our large pickups, and new crossover and SUV entries were hot sellers,” Sandor Piszar, GM Canada vice-president of sales, service and marketing, said in a statement.
By brand, Buick sales were up 16 percent due mainly to the Encore GX, which didn’t exist a year ago and sold 1,948 units during the third quarter. Cadillac sales improved 23 percent on the strength of the XT4 (up 29 percent to 1,159), XT5 (down less than one percent to 1,456) and the XT6. Chevrolet sales were off 19 percent to 31,369 while GMC sales fell nearly seven percent to 22,127.
GM Canada’s sales year-to-date dropped 21 percent to 161,535.
FCA Canada reported third-quarter sales of 54,399 vehicles, a decrease of 11 percent from 60,928 sold during the same quarter in 2019.
Ram performed the best, remaining relatively stable with sales down just 4 percent 28,391. Ram pickup sales fell 5 percent to 27,065 but ProMaster Van sales helped offset the losses with a 38 percent increase to 1,169 units.
Jeep sales slipped 16 percent with Wrangler up 2 percent to 1,061 units and Gladiator up 94 percent to 1,413, helping to stem the bleeding. The low-volume Chrysler brand saw its sales slide 12 percent to 868 units. Dodge was down 19 percent to 7,660 units with Durango taking the biggest hit, plunging 62 percent to 808 units. Grand Caravan sales were relatively stable, down just three percent to 6,067 units.
Despite the overall decline during the third quarter, FCA Canada CEO David Buckingham remained optimistic.
“Every month in the third quarter showed improved recovery, with September recording retail growth versus 2019,” he said in a statement.