UPDATE 2-Canada January auto sales dip but Detroit makers strong

Fri Feb 1, 2013 5:54pm EST
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* Chrysler ousts Ford as No. 1 in sales in Canada in January

* Analysts have optimistic outlook for 2013 vehicle sales

* Japan carmakers sales dip vs very strong comparables

Feb 1 (Reuters) - Auto sales in Canada slipped 2.2 percent in January, data showed on Friday, on weaker demand for European vehicles and strong comparable data from a year ago when Japan's automakers were rebounding from earthquake and tsunami disruptions.

While Canadian demand for vehicles made by Toyota Motor Corp and Audi fell sharply last month, appetite for vehicles assembled by Detroit's Big Three automakers rose as buyers snapped up their more fuel-efficient passenger cars.

"The Detroit Three enjoyed a great month, growing their combined market share from 45.6 percent to 49.2 percent," independent industry analyst Dennis DesRosiers said.

He cautioned, however, that maintaining that share, which foreign automakers have been eating into for the past few years, "will be a challenge."

Overall, the industry sold 95,306 vehicles in January, down from 97,497 in January 2012 when sales jumped more than 15 percent amid recovering production at Japanese automakers following the devastating earthquake- and tsunami-caused major supply disruptions.

Despite last month's dip, DesRosiers said it looked as if the year "is off to a solid start."   Continued...