Canadian auto sales edge 1.5 percent lower in May

Wed Jun 1, 2016 5:39pm EDT
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By Allison Lampert

MONTREAL (Reuters) - Canadian auto sales for May edged 1.5 percent lower on an annual basis, the first monthly decline since December 2015, but the industry could still be on track to hit a new record this year, analysts wrote on Wednesday.

Total Canadian auto sales slipped to 194,866 vehicles last month, with General Motors Co (GM.N: Quote) reporting a 16.4 percent year over year decline, partly because May 2016 had two fewer selling days than the same month a year earlier, wrote analyst Dennis DesRosiers in a note to clients.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCHA.MI: Quote) said on Wednesday it sold a monthly record of 31,724 vehicles in May, up 0.3 per cent compared with the same month in 2015. Ford Motor Co (F.N: Quote) on Wednesday reported slight gains in May auto sales in Canada, while Honda Motor Co Ltd (7267.T: Quote) said sales rose 5 percent.

Despite the decline in May auto sales, year-to-date figures rose 5.6 percent to 798,089 vehicles sold during the first five months of 2016, compared with the same period a year earlier, DesRosiers wrote.

In April, total Canadian industry sales exceeded 200,000 light vehicles, the most in a month.

In a May report, TD Economics said the industry was on track for another sales record in 2016.

"A new record at the end of 2016 is still possible," DesRosiers wrote.

"We believe Canada is still on pace for a record year, which we expect to finish at 1.94 million light vehicles sold," wrote Bill Rinna senior manager, North American Forecasts at LMC Automotive, in an email.   Continued...

People talk as they stand next to a logo of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) in Turin March 31, 2014. REUTERS/Giorgio Perottino