(Recasts with total number of Canadian sales, analyst comments)
By Susan Taylor
TORONTO, Sept 3 (Reuters) - Canadian auto sales raced to an all-time record in August as consumers in the country’s most populous province rushed back into the market, helping fuel a 7.9 percent jump in new vehicle sales, an independent industry analyst said on Wednesday.
Strong demand in Ontario and parts of western Canada drove industry sales of 171,560 new vehicles in the month of August, up from 159,004 a year ago, said Dennis DesRosiers of DesRosiers Automotive Consultants.
A 14 percent jump in truck sales offset essentially flat car sales.
Canada’s “hot” auto market has set five monthly sales records this year, DesRosiers said in a report, with year-to-date sales up a “spectacular” 4.6 percent at 1,256,649 vehicles.
In the United States, August sales were the highest for that month in more than a decade, helped by heavy discounting from manufacturers and a strong Labor Day weekend close, as the industry sold at an annualized pace not seen since early 2006.
U.S. August sales rose 5.4 percent from a year ago to 1,583,476 vehicles, according to a Reuters analysis.
Canada’s top seller in August was Ford Motor Co of Canada Ltd which maintained leadership for a fifth consecutive month.
Total sales rose 2.6 percent to 27,988 vehicles. Truck sales climbed 10.4 percent, to 22,539 vehicles, offsetting a 20.5 percent drop in car sales, to 5,449 vehicles.
“We look forward to continued momentum in the fall,” said Ford Canada Chief Executive Officer Dianne Craig in a statement.
Chrysler Canada said it posted a 22 percent jump in sales, to 26,825 cars and trucks, marking its biggest August sales ever and best year-to-date sales on record.
Truck sales rose 33.3 percent, to 24,302 vehicles, while car sales dropped 31.8 percent to 2,523, said Chrysler, a unit of Fiat SpA. Year-to-date, sales are up 7 percent.
Strong sales of core brands put the company “on pace to have the best year in our 89-year history,” said Chrysler Canada Chief Operating Officer David Buckingham in a statement.
General Motors of Canada Ltd reported a 4.8 percent August sales increase, to 22,111 vehicles. Truck sales grew 7.3 percent to 16,089 vehicles, but car sales dipped 1.1 percent to 6,022 vehicles.
Honda Canada reported a 44 percent jump in August sales of its Honda and Acura brands to 13,663 vehicles.
Honda unit sales rose 50 percent to 12,081 vehicles, while Acura sales grew 9 percent, to 1,582 vehicles.
Toyota Canada Inc said monthly sales rose 4.8 percent to 18,487 vehicles, lifted by a 9.2 percent increase in truck sales to 8,978 vehicles, an all-time August record. (Editing by Franklin Paul, Matthew Lewis and Nick Zieminski)