GM falls to No. 3 as Canadian auto sales slump

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian auto sales extended their freefall for a fourth consecutive month in February, with General Motors GM.N losing its No. 1 position for the first time since 1949, industry figures showed on Tuesday.

Overall, February auto sales sank 27.7 percent in Canada from a year earlier, extending declines of 25 percent in January, 21 percent in December, and 10.3 percent in November, as the economy worsened and consumers stayed away from big-ticket purchases.

In the United States, auto sales fell even further, tumbling more than 40 percent.

Canadians bought 80,230 vehicles last month compared with 110,951 a year earlier, according to data from DesRosiers Automotive Consultants Inc.

General Motors Corp of Canada said its sales tumbled 56.5 percent to 11,529 vehicles.

GM said truck sales slid 51.9 percent to 6.550, while car sales dropped 61.4 percent to 4,979.

“With both Chrysler and Ford outselling GM in February it will be the first month since sometime in late 1949 -- 59 years -- that GM has been outsold by another vehicle company in Canada,” said DesRosiers.

“I suspect you have to go back to the early nineteen hundreds to find a month when GM was not at least in second place.”

For the first time in its 84-year history, Chrysler Canada CBS.UL became the country's No. 1 automaker, with sales of 12,015, down 27 percent from the previous February. Car sales dropped 24.4 percent, to 3,143, while truck sales fell 27.8 percent to 8,872.

Ford Motor Co of Canada F.N managed to retake some market share, with better results than the industry average: down 15.5 percent a 11,869. Car sales fell 32.7 percent to 2,181 units, while truck sales slid 10.4 percent to 9,688.

Sales at Toyota Canada Inc 7203.T slid 25.5 percent in February from a year earlier to 10,136 vehicles.

The automaker’s Toyota division saw sales fall 26.3 percent to 9,421, while its luxury Lexus division sold 715 vehicles for a drop of 13 percent.

Honda Motor Co Canada Inc 7267.T reported a 42 percent drop in February sales to 7,041 units.

($1=$1.29 Canadian)

Reporting by John McCrank; editing by Rob Wilson