Canadian auto sales jump in June, racking up another record

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian auto sales set another record in June, making for a solid performance in the first half of the year as customer demand for light trucks was strong, despite a decline in passenger car sales, data showed on Tuesday.

A water tank with the GM logo is seen at the General Motors Assembly Plant in Valencia, April 21, 2017. REUTERS/Marco Bello

Automakers sold 203,500 vehicles in June, up 6.5 percent from the year before and a record performance for the month, Canadian auto analyst Dennis DesRosiers wrote in a note.

Since the start of the year, car makers have sold 1.04 million vehicles in Canada, up 5 percent from the same time frame a year ago and the first time over a million new vehicles have been purchased in the first half of the year, DesRosiers said.

In contrast, U.S. auto sales fell for a fourth consecutive month in June, despite hefty consumer discounts, the major automakers reported on Monday.

While car sales in Canada have posted a record in nearly every month of 2017 so far, it is not immune to the different picture that is forming in the United States, DesRosiers said.

“Surpassing 2016 as an all-time record setting year may not be a foregone conclusion should Canada start to follow that trend in the latter half of the year,” DesRosiers.

Light truck sales increased 8.8 percent year-to-date, while passenger car sales were down 2 percent, according to DesRosiers.

The increase in sales of pickup trucks points to improving business investment prospects in the country’s energy sector, said Scotiabank senior economist Carlos Gomes.

Gomes recently raised his 2017 Canadian sales forecast to 2 million vehicles from 1.94 million as the Prairie provinces recover from the drop in oil prices that began in 2014.

Ford Motor Co said on Tuesday it sold 32,777 vehicles in Canada last month, up 14.1 percent from the year before as sales of its sport utility vehicles (SUV) rose.

General Motors Co sold 27,151 vehicles last month, up 4.2 percent from a year ago as dealerships also saw increased demand for pickup trucks and compact SUVs.

For the first six months of the year, total sales were up 15.6 percent, GM said, the strongest first half of the year since 2008, just before the global financial crisis hit.

Fiat Chrysler bucked the trend with total sales of 26,926 vehicles in June, down 7 percent from the year before as sales of its Jeep brand declined.

Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Jonathan Oatis