February 2, 2016 / 5:58 PM / 2 years ago

Automakers report higher January sales in Canada

A new Fiat Chrysler Automobiles sign is pictured after being unveiled at Chrysler Group World Headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan May 6, 2014. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

MONTREAL (Reuters) - Most automakers on Tuesday reported higher Canadian auto sales in January, even as forecasters expect demand for cars and light trucks to level off in Canada this year following a record-breaking 2015.

General Motors Co (GM.N) notched Canadian sales of 14,395 vehicles in January, up 24 percent compared with the same month a year earlier, despite two fewer selling days.

John Roth, vice president, sales, service and marketing for the company said in a statement: “2016 is off to a strong start for GM Canada.”

Ford Motor Co (F.N) said its January sales increased 14 percent over a year ago, fueled by stronger demand for sport-utility vehicles and pickups.

Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) reported sales of 12,045 vehicles, up 4.5 percent compared with January 2015.

The Canadian figures come as U.S. auto sales fared better than expected in January, as the industry continued to benefit from low gasoline prices, easy credit and moderate economic growth.

DesRosiers Automotive Consultants said that while Canada’s numbers were “extremely positive” it was too soon to read too much into them, noting that there is typically “gaming” at the end of the year that can skew January sales.

“We remain optimistic for 2016 that sales will reach the levels achieved in 2015 but our conviction is the lowest in a number of years,” it said in a note.

The consulting and market research firm noted continued strength in luxury sales in Canada, with Land Rover, Infiniti, Mercedes Benz and Porsche all posting double-digit growth.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (FCHA.MI) and Subaru Co Ltd (9778.T) on Tuesday reported slightly higher January auto sales in Canada.

FCA Canada said it sold a total of 18,156 vehicles, up 1 percent over a year ago, fueled by stronger demand for the company’s Jeep brand vehicles.

Subaru Canada Inc said it sold 2,687 vehicles, up 2.1 percent from January last year.

Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE), meanwhile, reported a 17.6 percent drop in sales to 3,408 vehicles, according to DesRosiers. It attributed the fall to the German automaker’s diesel emissions scandal and VW’s decision to stop selling diesel-powered vehicles in Canada.

Additional reporting by Julie Gordon in Vancouver; Editing by James Dalgleish and Tom Brown

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