U.S. OCTOBER 2018 CANADA AUTO SALES: Volume slumps 3.9% as interest rates continue to rise

UPDATED: 11/01/18 8:37 pm ET — Correction

EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this story included an incorrect October sales total for General Motors Canada, which led to an understated industry sales total for the month.

New-vehicle sales fell for the seventh consecutive month in Canada in October, a trend the Global Automakers of Canada called “disconcerting.”

Automakers sold 158,153 new vehicles last month as year-to-date sales — now at 1,735,629 units — fell for a third straight month.

“We’ve seen interest rates rise and, despite a rather significant increase in consumer confidence as measured by the Conference Board of Canada, that confidence does not seem to have extended to big ticket items like vehicles, which are more sensitive to interest rate increases,” David Adams, president of Global Automakers of Canada said in a statement.  

The Bank of Canada has increased its overnight lending rate five times since last summer. It now stands at 1.75 percent. The rate affects everything from auto loans to mortgages.

Ford retained the overall sales lead on a year-to-date basis. 

The Ford F-series pickup also remains Canada’s best-selling vehicle through October, while the Honda Civic retains that distinction for  cars.

Trucks comprised 72 percent of the market in October, compared with 70 percent in 2017.

Here’s a look at how some of the automakers fared in October:

GM down 12.9%

GM Canada saw its October sales drop 12.9 per cent when compared with the same month last year.

The automaker sold 23,374 vehicles last month, down from the 26,847 last October.

GM did not provide a sales breakdown by brand.

Nissan’s record October

Nissan Canada had its best October on record with sales of 12,198 vehicles, a 5.4 percent increase over the same month in 2017.

While it wasn’t a huge number by volume, the Nissan Titan full-size pickup had a record October with 521 sold, nearly double over last year.

The automaker credited the sales increase to a nationwide marketing campaign.

“In October, we launched our first ever Nissan Truck Month campaign,” Nissan Canada spokeswoman Jennifer McCarthy said. “This campaign to tout cash purchase and lease deals was supported nationally in television through our partnerships with the NFL and CFL, regionally through various mediums, and locally by dealers.”

Overall, sales of Nissan brand vehicles offset a slump in sales of the luxury Infiniti brand. Nissan sales were up 7.7 percent to 11,296 units while Infiniti sales dropped 17 percent to 902 vehicles.

The subcompact Qashqai and electric Leaf both posted record October sales. Qashqai sales of 1,707 vehicles were up 43 percent while the 640 Leafs sold marked the vehicle’s ninth consecutive month of sales records.

With 328 units sold, the Infiniti QX50 became the luxury brand’s best-selling vehicle.

F series leads Ford again

Ford Canada sales increased 1.6 percent in October, led by the F series’ best October on record.

The automaker sold 21,414 total vehicles in the month.

Canadians bought 10,874 F-series pickups last month, up 3 percent from the previous year. Sales of the Canada-made Edge were also up three per cent to 1,489 units.

“We’ve committed to a strategy focusing on trucks, utilities and commercial vehicles, and we’re starting to see that strategy pay off,” said Mark Buzzell, CEO of Ford Canada.

Ford truck sales were up 6.4 percent in October to 20,098, but are essentially flat through October with a 0.3 percent decrease.

Sales of Ford cars fell 40 percent to just 1,330 in October. Sales are off 17 percent in that segment through the first 10 months.

Lincoln sales increased 49 percent in October.

RAM rebounds, but FCA sinks

As Ram sales rebounded for Fiat Chrysler in October, Jeep took a dive, and FCA posted a 15 percent decline overall.

FCA, including the low-volume Alfa Romeo brand, sold 14,669 vehicles in October. That’s down from 17,211 units sold a year ago.

Ram was the only brand to post a sales increase, up 10 percent to 6,677. Ram pickup sales rebounded from a September slide. Pickup sales were up nine per cent to 6,310 in October compared with the same month in 2017.

Ram pickup sales were down 11 percent to 6,903 units in September.

The Ontario-made Dodge Caravan had its sales sink 44 percent to 1,783 units in October. The Chrysler Pacifica, also made in Ontario, saw sales slide 53 percent to 216 units.

Jeep sales were down 7 percent to 4,491 units. Compass sales were up just 2 percent, while the Grand Cherokee saw sales increase 39 percent to 1,103 units. Wrangler sales fell 33 percent to 1,182, but the vehicle remained the most popular Jeep model.

Toyota sales surge

Toyota Canada’s total sales surged 10 percent in October, with pickups and the popular RAV4 doing much of the lifting.

Tundra sales spiked 41 percent, up to 1,156 units compared with the same month a year ago. Sales of the smaller Tacoma were up 8.5 percent to 1,163 units.

Meanwhile, the RAV4 was the top-selling Toyota vehicle in October up 21 percent with 5,607 units sold.

On the car side of sales, the automaker sold 4,298 Corollas, up 19 percent over October 2017. 

Total Lexus sales were up 12 percent to 2,916 units. Lexus NX sales jumped 24 percent to 1,008 while ES sales more than doubled to 346.

Subaru sales remain high

Subaru sales in Canada climbed 11 percent to 5,500 vehicles in October compared with October 2017.

Through 10 months, the automaker has posted a 6.9 percent increase over the same time last year.

Kia, Hyundai head in different directions

Kia sales fell 4.1 percent to 5,626 vehicles in October and the automaker remains off last year’s sales pace by 3.4 percent through 10 months. Meanwhile, Hyundai, while down 2.1 percent through October posted a 12 percent sales gain in the month, selling 11,373 vehicles.

Hyundai’s Genesis luxury brand had sales of 132 vehicles, up 175 percent over last year.

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