Canadian auto sales may be record high in 2013: industry

Thu Feb 14, 2013 6:05pm EST
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By Solarina Ho

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian vehicle sales could reach an all-time high this year, topping the near-record 1.7 million vehicles the industry sold in 2012, automotive executives said on Thursday.

Pent-up demand from the recent recession, rising employment and a wave of new models are driving sales for the Canadian units of the Detroit Three as well as other foreign-based automakers, analysts have said.

"The Canadian industry is a very mature market, but I think we believe it will top 1.7 million for the next two to three years," Dave Gardner, vice president of sales and marketing at Honda, told Reuters at Canadian International Auto Show. "That's a pretty robust market."

General Motors of Canada, a subsidiary of General Motors Co (GM.N: Quote), forecast industry growth of 2 to 3 percent, while Chrysler, a unit of Fiat SpA's Chrysler LLC FIA.MI, expects growth to be "plus or minus 2 to 3 percent" for the full year.

The Canadian market is fairly stable relative to 2012, said Reid Bigland, Chrysler's Canadian chief executive.

Ford of Canada, a unit of Ford Motor Co (F.N: Quote), is expecting the industry to exceed the record 1.73 million units sold in 2002 and could reach 1.76 million in 2013, said Dianne Craig, the unit's chief executive.

Ford was the top-selling automaker in Canada for the third year in a row in 2012 while Chrysler, which was in third place in 2011, knocked GM from the No. 2 spot.

The bullish comments follow strong January sales for the Detroit Three, both in Canada and in the United States. Sales south of the border outpaced the broader U.S. economic recovery as a growing number of consumers replace their aging cars and trucks.   Continued...