UPDATE 2-Canadian auto sales dip in March, but close to record

Tue Apr 2, 2013 5:01pm EDT
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* Ford Canada top seller for March

* Year-to-date, Chrysler Canada leads sales

* GM market share shaved lower as sales drop

By Susan Taylor

TORONTO, April 2 (Reuters) - Canadian auto sales ticked down a modest 0.7 percent in March, declining for the fourth straight month, but industry data released on Tuesday showed new vehicle sales came close to matching record-setting numbers from last year.

Buoyed by strong demand for its pick-up trucks, Ford Canada was top seller for the month with a 1.6 percent sales increase, while Chrysler took second spot with a 6.5 percent jump. General Motors sales tumbled nearly 11 percent.

Asian automakers also saw declines, with Toyota Motor Corp sales down 6.2 percent, Honda Motor Corp Ltd down 0.6 percent and Hyundai Motor Co sales 4.7 percent lower.

Total March sales in Canada slipped to 156,680 vehicles from 157,749 in the same period last year, when an all-time record was set, according to data from independent auto analyst Dennis DesRosiers. Car sales fell 4.7 percent to 70,2017 vehicles, while truck sales rose 2.8 percent to 86,473 vehicles.

"These are not bad numbers at all," said Tony Faria, an auto industry expert at the University of Windsor in Ontario. "We're running right along the best year we ever had (in 2002). We may fall slightly short of it for the full year, we may come in slightly ahead."   Continued...