UPDATE 2-Canada vehicle sales outlook bright after October surge

Thu Nov 1, 2012 5:32pm EDT
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Nov 1 (Reuters) - Canadian vehicle sales surged 7.8 percent last month in the industry's strongest October ever as consumers sought smaller, fuel-efficient passenger cars while also buying more luxury brands.

Ford Motor Co of Canada remained Canada's top-selling automaker in October with total sales increasing 7 percent.

Barring an economic shock, an annual record for Canadian sales should come within reach in the next few years, with the market possibly approaching 1.8 million units sometime during the current decade, independent automotive expert Dennis DesRosiers said.

Having recorded sales of 135,000 in October, Canada is on track to reach 1.7 million units sold in 2012. Sales reached more than 1.7 million vehicles only once before, in 2002.

"This incredibly positive market performance by the automotive sector should also continue as far out as we can see. Almost all metrics point to improvement for the next four (and possibly five or six) years," DesRosiers said in a note to clients.

Vehicle sales at Ford of Canada, a unit of Ford Motor Co , increased to 20,565 last month from 19,190 in October 2011, largely on the back of a nearly 17 percent jump in passenger car sales.

"The auto industry is a key engine driving the Canadian economy and it is showing strong, sustainable growth," said Dianne Craig, chief executive of Ford of Canada.

Cars, led by the Ford Focus, were by far the strongest segment as consumers snapped up smaller, fuel-efficient vehicles. Sales of trucks, including the popular F-150 line, also rose in October, by 4.5 percent.   Continued...