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Light vehicle sales flat in March amid increase in truck sales and drop in cars

TORONTO - Light vehicle sales were flat for automakers overall in March, as an increase in light truck sales in Canada was offset by a drop in passenger cars.

Total light vehicle sales for March amounted to 157,060, up from 156,680 in the year-ago period — an increase of 0.2 per cent, according to figures compiled by DesRosiers Automotive Consultants Inc. on Tuesday.

Car sales fell 5.7 per cent to 66,209 in March from 70,205 sold in the same period last year, while truck sales were up 5.1 per cent to 90,851 from 86,475.

"Being up by a sliver isn’t shooting the lights out but when put in the context of a `never ending' winter and strong year ago sales, then current sales levels should be applauded rather than scorned," said a commentary from DesRosiers.

The March results brought year-to-date sales to 358,392 units, or up 0.9 per cent.

"Again, not spectacular, but very strong by historical standards. We are now entering the peak selling season and the next three months will tell us a lot as to whether this will be another record year," the consulting firm said.

The Big Three had a combined drop in sales of 1.1 per cent to 68,661 as Ford reported a drop of 10.7 per cent to 22,390 cars and trucks in March. General Motors posted an increase of 7.8 per cent to 21,790 vehicles, while Chrysler gained 1.5 per cent to 24,481.

Chrysler said its sales were boosted by purchases of its Jeep Cherokee and Ram Trucks, as well as the Chrysler Town and Country minivan.

Import nameplates sold 88,399 units overall, an increase of 1.3 per cent.

Hyundai sales amounted to 12,707, an increase of 5.8 per cent, while Toyota sold 15,803 vehicles, up 4.9 per cent, with record sales for the Toyota Highlander and Tundra, as well as strong Lexus sales.

Sales at Subaru Canada were up 11.5 per cent to 3,476 units on sales of the Subaru XV Crosstrek and Forester.

Honda Canada had combined March sales of 15,292 by its Honda and Acura divisions, a six per cent increase over last year's sales.

Kia Canada said it sold 5,881 vehicles in March, boosted by sales of the Forte sedan, the Soul urban hatchback and the Rondo urban utility vehicle, while total volume sales through the first quarter of 2014 increased 3.2 per cent with 14,150 vehicles sold.

Meanwhile, Nissan said its latest sales numbers amounted to 10,470 units, an increase of 23.7 per cent from last year. The Nissan brand sold 9,404 units, while the Infiniti brand increased 4.1 per cent year-over-year.

The Canadian Press

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