Times Colonist

Soft month for automakers

Ford maintains lead; General Motors, Chrysler gaining

- SCOTT DEVEAU

TORONTO — Automakers had another soft month for sales in October as waning consumer confidence weighed on new car and truck purchases.

Overall, industry-wide sales were up just 2.1 per cent last month compared with October 2010, according to Desrosiers Automotive Consultant­s Inc.

General Motors of Canada claimed the top sales spot in the country for the first time since January with sales up nine per cent year over year in October to 19,542 units.

Those gains were made on the back of strong demand for its compact crossers, the Equinox and Terrain, which saw sales improve 12 per cent year-overyear during the month.

Ford Motor Co. of Canada remains in the top sales spot year to date, but said its October sales fell 2.4 per cent compared with the same period last year to 19,190 vehicles.

“Although sales were down slightly, October still came in as the second-largest in sales in 12 years,” said Scott Cauvel, Ford of Canada vice-president of sales. “Our truck sales have been hampered by a shortage of F-150s with Ecoboost engines. The combinatio­n of powerful performanc­e and great fuel efficiency is very popular — as soon as an F-150 with Ecoboost arrives at the dealership, it’s sold.”

It is an issue Ford has faced throughout the year. The EcoBoost engine — designed to deliver power and torque consistent with larger displaceme­nt editions — is built at its Cleveland engine plant. It is running at peak capacity and is unable to keep up with demand, said Rosmarie Pao, a spokeswoma­n for Ford of Canada.

Chrysler Canada had another strong month, recording its best October since 2002 with sales up 12 per cent year over year.

Chrysler said it sold 17,049 vehicles across the country last month, up from 15,168 in October 2010. Sales of the Chrysler 300, and Dodge Charger and Avenger more than doubled during the month compared to a year ago. Truck sales improved three per cent as well.

Year to date, Ford’s market share now sits at 17.7 per cent, compared with 15.3 per cent at GM and 14.7 per cent at Chrysler, according to Desrosiers’ figures.

Toyota Canada posted a three per cent increase in sales during month to 14,980 units compared to a year ago, including an 8.5 per cent bump in truck sales.

Carlos Gomes, a senior economist with Scotia Economics, said the positive sales momentum at Toyota helped lift the industrywi­de volumes to an annualized rate of 1.63 million units, up from 1.59 million units in September.

“The gains at Toyota reflect some normalizat­ion in inventorie­s, and comes on the heals of a 12 per cent [year-over-year] falloff between April and September due to product shortages,” Gomes said.

Meanwhile, Honda Canada sales fell 13 per cent during the month to 11,232 vehicles.

The sales totals come just one day after Honda said it would once again be scaling back production next month at its North American plants, including in Alliston, Ont., where it builds its popular Civic, due to a parts shortage stemming from the floods in Thailand.

 ??  ?? A row of Suburban SUVS rolls off the assembly line at a General Motors plant in Arlington, Texas.
A row of Suburban SUVS rolls off the assembly line at a General Motors plant in Arlington, Texas.

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