TORONTO (Reuters) - Detroit-based automakers reported higher Canadian sales last month, led by Ford Motor Co of Canada, which said on Monday that demand for fuel-efficient cars helped it record its best June in 22 years.
Across the board, sales of cars and light trucks were up 6.6 percent in June from a year earlier at 164,796 units, according to DesRosiers Automotive Consultants.
Sales at Ford of Canada rose 5.5 percent to 33,450 vehicles. Truck sales slipped 3.8 percent to 22,625, while car sales surged 32 percent to 10,825.
Pickup trucks have long dominated Ford sales in Canada, but the company has been placing a bigger emphasis on its new car models in recent years amid volatile gasoline prices.
“Our investment in smaller more fuel-efficient vehicles is clearly paying off as consumers continue to look for great fuel economy,” said David Mondragon, chief executive of Ford’s Canadian unit.
In May, overall auto sales in the country slumped nearly 4 percent, prompting warnings that a full recovery in the auto sector was still a long way off.
But Mondragon said that industry numbers were beginning to show promise and that Ford believes the summer could be a fairly strong one in terms of sales.
“In fact, the Canadian market may come in stronger for 2011 than first forecast,” he said.
Ford had forecast overall 2011 sales of about 1.6 million vehicles.
General Motors Canada said its sales last month rose 11.9 percent from a year earlier to 27,865 vehicles, not including the brands it canceled as part of its restructuring.
Truck sales were up 11 percent at 18,827, while car sales rose 13.8 percent to 9,038.
Chrysler Canada said its June sales were up 27.4 percent to 23,576, helped by what it called “the right mix of fuel efficiency, performance, and functionality.”
The company said it sold 20,121 trucks in the month, up 30.7 percent from a year earlier, and 3,455 cars, for an 11.2 percent gain.
The Canadian units of Toyota and Honda continued to be hurt by supply issues stemming from the March earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
Toyota Canada numbers were not immediately available, but DesRosiers’ industry data indicated that the company’s sales were down 27.7 percent to 10,564 vehicles.
Honda Canada said it sold 9,584 vehicles in June, down 19 percent. Its Honda-brand unit reported a 19 percent drop to 8,451 vehicles, while the company’s Acura division reported sales of 1,133 units, down 21 percent from last year.
“Once again, our sales results were impacted by lack of supply for some models, for which we apologize to our customers,” said Jerry Chenkin, executive vice president of Honda Canada.
In the United States, auto sales rose in June but were weaker than expected as the weak economy and tight supply of cars left buyers wary.
Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson; editing by Peter Galloway