By Solarina Ho
TORONTO, March 1 Canadian auto sales dropped a
moderate 3.3 percent in February in a third straight monthly
decline, according to industry data released on Friday, as a
hardy appetite for Detroit's Big Three brands helped offset a
setback for Japanese makers.
Chrysler Canada was the top seller last month, pipping Ford
of Canada by a few hundred units, although Ford posted a higher
overall sales increase at 5 percent, compared with Chrysler's 2
Carlos Gomes, an auto sector analyst at Scotiabank, said
severe winter weather in part may have been responsible for the
"It's not terribly out of line with what we are forecasting
for the year as a whole," he said.
Excluding weak sales of Japanese and Korean vehicles, sales
have been up nearly 2 percent this year, Gomes said.
Industry sales totaled 103,226 vehicles in February, down
from 106,712 a year ago, according to analyst firm DesRosiers
Automotive. The drop comes after January sales fell modestly
following a sturdy 5.7 percent sales rise in 2012.
"It still remains relatively robust given the slowing
economy and drop in consumer confidence that was seen during the
month," independent industry analyst Dennis DesRosier said in a
Looking ahead to the rest of 2013, DesRosier said the spring
selling season starting in March will provide a better gauge of
the industry's direction for this year.
CHRYSLER TOP SELLER
Chrysler sold the most vehicles in any February since 2000
and extended its streak of year-over-year gains to 39
Chrysler, whose Ram pickup truck is the second best-selling
vehicle in Canada, sold 16,832 vehicles in February, up from
16,536 for the same period a year before. Car sales were up 16
percent from February 2012, while trucks were down 0.6 percent.
Chrysler, majority-owned by Fiat SpA, said the
Chrysler 200, Dodge Avenger, Fiat 500 and Dodge Dart helped fuel
gains in car sales.
Ford Motor Co of Canada's 5 percent rise in February
sales marked its best performance for that month in seven years.
Ford sold 16,301 vehicles in February, up from 15,461 for
the same period a year ago. Car sales climbed 13 percent, while
truck sales were up a little over 3 percent.
Total sales of General Motors of Canada Ltd fell 1.9
percent compared to a year earlier, but were up 2.2 percent when
adjusted for selling days. It sold 13,987 vehicles compared with
14,258 in February of last year.
GM, maker of the Cadillac ATS, said car sales rose 8.8
percent, but truck sales fell 6.5 percent.
In the United States, pent-up demand for new cars and trucks
boosted monthly auto sales, with February figures showing
automakers beat analysts estimates.
Among the Japanese automakers, Toyota Motor Corp's
Canadian sales fell nearly 14 percent, while Honda Motor Co Ltd
recorded a 13 percent decrease in Canada, excluding
their respective luxury brands, Lexus and Acura.
Nissan Motor Co Ltd sales fell 15 percent compared
with February 2012, excluding the Infiniti line, which was up 27
Korean brands Hyundai and Kia were also down nearly 6
percent and 10 percent, respectively.