January 5, 2009 / 10:53 PM / 9 years ago

December Canadian auto sales sag 21 percent

3 Min Read

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian auto sales tumbled 21 percent in December from a year earlier, industry figures showed on Monday, as the worsening global economy undercut consumer confidence and credit was harder to come by.

Canadians bought 94,423 vehicles last month compared with 119,894 in December 2007, according to figures from DesRosiers Automotive Consultants Inc.

"Canada had defied the U.S. trend up until October but with November sales down 10.3 percent and now December down 21.3 percent, one can safely say that Canada too is in an automotive recession," Dennis DesRosiers, president the company, said in a statement.

U.S. auto sales fell by more than 30 percent in December.

Sales for General Motors of Canada, the country's top car company, were down 19.5 percent at 21,000 vehicles.

GM said truck sales slid 22.4 percent to 12,733, while car sales dropped 14.6 percent to 8,267 units.

Overall sales at Chrysler Canada fell 35.7 percent to 12,294 units in the month. Car sales declined 28.8 percent, to 2,474 units, while truck sales dropped 37.3 percent to 9,820 units.

Ford Motor Co of Canada sales fell 5.8 percent to 14,290. Car sales fell 6.9 percent to 3,221, while truck sales slid 5.4 percent to 11,069 units.

Toyota Canada Inc recorded a 35.4 percent drop in December from a year earlier to 9,752 vehicles.

Sales at the automaker's Toyota division decreased 36.2 percent to 8,846, while its luxury Lexus division sold 906 vehicles for a 25.9 percent drop.

Honda Canada Inc reported a 40.8 percent drop in sales to 10,555 units.

Offshore Automakers Gain

For the year, Canadian auto sales were down 1.1 percent at 1,635,986 units. For 2009, sales will likely decline a further 9 percent to slightly over 1.5 million units, said DesRosiers.

The market share of the offshore-based automakers, at 51.2 percent, exceeded the combined share for Detroit's Big Three for the first time ever, he said.

The Detroit Three collectively lost 3.8 points of market share for their worst single yearly loss since 2001 when they fell 4.6 points.

GM's yearly sales were down 11.1 percent at 358,902 vehicles, while Ford's sales dropped 5.9 percent to 211,060, and Chrysler sales fell 4.2 percent to 222,996.

The big Japanese-based automakers fared better, with both Toyota and Honda recording record annual Canadian sales.

Toyota, up 11.3 percent for the year, jumped ahead of Ford and Chrysler to take the No. 2 sales spot in Canada, with 224,158 vehicles sold. Honda was up 1 percent at 171,358 units.

Reporting by John McCrank; editing by Rob Wilson

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