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Truck demand drives auto sales up

TORONTO - Strong demand for trucks helped many Canadian automakers boost their sales in May as they entered into the peak selling season, according to data compiled by DesRosiers Automotive Consultants on Monday.

Sales of light vehicles in Canada totalled 185,040 last month, up 5.3 per cent from the 175,716 sold last May.

Year to date, sales are up 2.4 per cent to 712,059, compared with 695,451 a year ago.

The largest gain was in truck sales, which climbed 7.9 per cent to 98,993, from 91,710 in May 2012.

Tony Faria, co-director of the Office of Automotive Research at the University of Windsor, says that's good news for automakers.

"It's the truck that makes the big margins for them," said Faria.

"So certainly while they'd like to do as well in cars, if they're going to sell more vehicles, all of the companies would rather sell more trucks."

Faria said low interest rates, the availability of credit and incentives from auto companies should keep sales strong throughout the summer months.

Ford Motor Company of Canada took the top spot, selling 32,490 vehicles @ 0.5 per cent more than the 32,338 it sold in May 2012.

Year to date, Ford's sales are up 5.7 per cent to 117,987.

While Ford saw its car sales slip 8.9 per cent to 8,953, truck sales rose 4.6 per cent to 23,537, compared with 22,509 a year earlier.

Chrysler Canada took second place, selling 12 per cent more vehicles this May compared to the previous year, but still falling short of Ford's total.

Chrysler sold 29,249 vehicles last month, compared to 26,218 a year ago, helped by strong sales of its Ram trucks and passenger cars.

GM Canada sold 23,654 vehicles last month, a 1.6 per cent gain from the 23,287 sold in May 2012.

Truck sales grew by 0.5 per cent to 15,419, while car sales grew by 3.6 per cent to 8,235.

Toyota Canada Inc. sold 22,250 vehicles in May, including its Lexus and Scion brands. That's 12.3 per cent more than the Japanese automaker sold in May 2012.

Toyota Canada's truck sales totalled 8,550 for the month, a gain of 14.2 per cent, while Lexus sales grew 11.9 per cent to 1,566 and Scion sales were up 62.9 per cent to 601.

Honda Canada Inc. sold 16,723 vehicles, including in its Acura division, up 22 per cent from last May.

"The spring selling season is underway and this is the type of momentum we really like to see," said Honda's vice president of sales and marketing Dave Gardner in a statement.

Meanwhile, Kia Canada Inc. saw its sales decline to 7,558 in May, 10.7 per cent lower than May 2012.

Nissan's Canadian sales were also down in May.

The automaker sold 8,367 vehicles, 9.1 per cent lower than last May's total of 9,204.

Sales at its Infiniti division were down 11.8 per cent to 733.

BMW's sales were down 13.2 per cent, while Mercedes-Benz was down 3.1 per cent compared to a year earlier.

"With the exceptions of Audi and Porsche, German luxury brands experienced uninspiring May sales," DesRosiers said in a note.

The Canadian Press


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