UPDATE 3-Canadian vehicle sales rise in 2015 -consultant

Tue Jan 5, 2016 5:58pm EST
 
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(New throughout, adds figures, commentary from auto consultant)

By Allison Lampert

MONTREAL Jan 5 (Reuters) - Automakers sold fewer light vehicles in Canada during the month of December, but reported record-breaking sales of trucks and cars for 2015, automotive consultant Dennis DesRosiers said Tuesday.

Driven by demand for SUVs, light vehicle sales in Canada set a new record for the third year in a row, with sales of 1,898,485 units in 2015, compared with 1,851,373 in 2014, DesRosiers wrote in a note to clients.

However, monthly new vehicle sales declined 1.9 percent to 128,874 units in December, "the first month to break a 32-month streak of consecutive year over year increases," he wrote.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV said its December sales rose 2 percent to 21,961 vehicles from the same month a year earlier and announced full-year sales for 2015 of 293,061 vehicles, compared with 290,004 in 2014. In a statement, David Buckingham, FCA Canada's chief operating officer, said "2015 marked our best sales volume in our 90-year history."

General Motors Co said in a statement that it delivered 263,335 vehicles in Canada in 2015, up 5.4 percent from 2014 despite a 3.4 percent decline in December sales.

Ford Motor Co said Canadian sales of cars and trucks in December dropped 13.3 percent from the same month a year earlier to 19,623 vehicles. Ford's sales declined almost 5 percent to 278,531 vehicles in 2015, the company said.

In the United States, automakers set a new sales record for 2015 even as December sales fell short of expectations, and most forecasters said sales should rise to another record this year.

In Canada, DesRosiers attributed the higher sales in 2015 to low interest rates and cheaper gasoline, while increased demand in the country's largest two provinces, Quebec and Ontario, offset weakness in Alberta caused by sinking oil prices.

DesRosiers did not address 2016 sales on Tuesday, but in an email on Monday he wrote "there is an excellent chance of sales growth in 2016." (Reporting by Allison Lampert; editing by Alistair Bell, Lisa Shumaker and David Gregorio)