UPDATE 4-Detroit's Big Three report higher March sales in Canada

Fri Apr 1, 2016 3:58pm EDT
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(Adds comment from Canadian auto analyst)

By Allison Lampert

MONTREAL, April 1 (Reuters) - Detroit's Big Three automakers on Friday reported higher March and first-quarter auto sales in Canada, as forecasters expect Canadian demand this year for vehicles and trucks to exceed that of record-breaking 2015.

General Motors Co. and Ford Motor Co. reported double-digit sales increases for March and the first quarter of 2016, compared with the same periods a year earlier, fueled largely by low gasoline prices and greater demand for trucks.

"The market continues to see solid sales momentum in March," Canadian auto analyst Dennis DesRosiers wrote in a note. "It has been a dream start to 2016."

Automakers sold 175,142 vehicles in Canada last month and 402,896 units for the first quarter, up 9 percent for both periods, DesRosiers said, noting the March sales were a record for the month.

Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac dealers delivered 24,498 vehicles in March 2016, an increase of 17 percent versus March 2015, GM said in a statement. March 2016 had one extra selling day compared with March 2015.

GM's sales in the first quarter of 2016 were up 18 percent compared with the same period in 2015.

Ford sold 26,447 vehicles in Canada last month, up 24 percent compared with March 2015. Increased demand for trucks fueled a 21 percent rise in Ford's first-quarter sales.   Continued...