UPDATE 1-Canada auto sales rise; Chrysler, Ford tussle at top

Thu May 1, 2014 5:38pm EDT
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(Adds sales data from Ford, GM, Toyota)

TORONTO May 1 (Reuters) - Automakers reported solid Canadian vehicle sales in April, with a 4 percent overall gain on a year ago, as demand for truck and luxury brands buoyed the industry.

Light trucks sales again overpowered passenger car purchases, even as gasoline prices continued to rise. Hybrid vehicles, which typically use both a traditional internal combustion engine and an electric motor, also sold well.

Chrysler Canada said on Thursday that its total vehicle sales climbed 6 percent in April, as a surge truck sales more than offset slumping car purchases, and it claimed the country's spot for top seller in 2014.

But rival Ford's Canadian unit took the lead in monthly sales, breaking records for its Escape and Explorer models and several hybrid vehicles.

Ford said it sold 27,342 vehicles in April, a 2 percent decline from a year ago, as it bucked the industry trend with declining truck sales.

Chrysler, a unit of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, said total vehicle sales climbed to 27,212 vehicles. Truck sales rose 22 percent to 24,229 vehicles, while auto sales tumbled 49 percent to 2,983 vehicles.

"This month's results marked the best April sales on record at Chrysler Canada in the last quarter of a century," Chief Operating Officer Dave Buckingham said in a statement. "Leading the pack are our Jeep and Ram products."

General Motors dealers in Canada came in third, selling 25,435 vehicles in the month, with strong gains for its Chevrolet brand.   Continued...