Canadian auto sales edge higher in March

Wed Apr 1, 2015 4:13pm EDT
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TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian auto sales rose in March from a year earlier, industry data showed on Wednesday, even as several major manufacturers, including General Motors Co (GM.N: Quote) and Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T: Quote), reported declines.

Automakers sold 160,274 cars and trucks in Canada, up 1.9 percent from March 2013, according to DesRosiers Automotive Consultants, despite an economic slowdown in the oil-rich province of Alberta, which has been hit by the plunge in crude prices.

"Sales year-to-date are up 2.7 percent so the concerns about Alberta dragging down the entire vehicle market in Canada are so far unfounded," DesRosiers said in a note to clients.

GM's Canadian sales fell to 21,027 cars and trucks from 21,790 vehicles a year earlier as car sales dropped 30.8 percent to 5,404 vehicles. Truck sales rose 11.7 percent. GM said the gain reflected a market shift from cars to trucks and crossovers.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' (FCHA.MI: Quote) Canadian unit sold 25,060 vehicles, up 1.7 percent from a year earlier. Sales of its Ram truck brand jumped 24 percent, more than offsetting a decline in car sales.

"The Ram brand continues to be one of the key determinants in our sales growth," Fiat Chrysler Canada Chief Operating Officer Dave Buckingham said in a release.

Ram sales rose to 10,008 trucks from 8,075, while car sales slipped 5.5 percent to 3,279 vehicles.

Ford Motor Co's (F.N: Quote) Canadian sales fell 4.6 percent to 21,380 vehicles, as car sales dropped 7.9 percent and truck sales fell 3.6 percent. The company said a shortage of inventory for some popular vehicles hurt sales.

Toyota Canada sold 16,805 cars and trucks in March, down from 17,397 in March 2013. Sales of Toyota-brand passenger car fell to 6,736 from 7,809.   Continued...

New cars are seen at the Toyota plant in Cambridge, March 31, 2014. REUTERS/Mark Blinch