January 4, 2012 / 4:28 PM / in 6 years

Ford retains Canadian auto sales crown

(Reuters) - Ford Motor Co of Canada (F.N) was Canada’s top-selling automaker in 2011 for the second consecutive year, boosted by sales of its popular F-Series pickup truck.

Ford Canada said it sold 275,978 vehicles last year, 3 percent more than in 2010. Truck sales again made up about three-quarters of its total sales.

“Full-sized trucks are experiencing record-breaking sales in Canada,” said Scott Cauvel, vice-president of sales at Ford Canada.

The F-Series was the top-selling vehicle in Canada for the second year in a row in 2011.

Ford was also Canada’s leading auto seller for the month of December, selling 19,381 vehicles, a dip of 0.5 percent from a year ago.

Independent auto analyst Dennis Desrosiers noted that European brands such as BMW, (BMWG.DE) Audi and Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) also gained in 2011.

“Just like how the 1990s were the decade for the Japanese and how the first decade of this century belonged to the Koreans, three years in, this decade is shaping up to be for the European brands,” he wrote.

While Japanese manufacturers were hurt by last spring’s earthquake and tsunami, Desrosiers said, they also struggled as other brands became more competitive, and made “serious product mistakes.”

Honda Canada (7267.T) said its sales were down 12 percent in 2011, while sales at Nissan Canada (7201.T) rose 3.9 percent. In December, Toyota Canada (7203.T) said its sales rose 41.5 percent over the same month in 2010, however.

GM Canada, a unit of General Motors (GM.N), took second spot for vehicle sales in 2011. It sold 242,830 cars and trucks, a dip of 1.7 percent on 2010.

“Our 2011 results reflect the highly competitive automotive market in Canada,” said Kevin Williams, president and managing director of GM Canada.

For the month of December, GM Canada, whose product line-up includes the Chevrolet Cruze, Buick Regal and Cadillac SRX, sold 18,282 vehicles, a drop of 9.4 percent.

Even so, Williams said he was optimistic about the new year. “Our new products and focus on the customer are hitting the mark with Canadians, which bodes well for 2012,” he said.

Earlier, Chrysler Canada said it chalked up its best sales numbers in nine years in 2011 and was also the No. 1 market share gainer in the country for the second year in a row.

The Detroit-based automaker said its sales rose 13 percent last year to 230,992, lifted by sales of its Ram pickup trucks and putting it in third place for overall sales. For the month of December, sales increased 2 percent to 14,628 vehicles.

“We experienced our highest retail sales results since 2002 and have two of the ‘Top 5’ best-selling vehicles in the country with our Ram truck and Dodge Grand Caravan,” Chrysler Canada President and Chief Executive Reid Bigland said in a statement.

Reporting by Nicole Mordant in Vancouver and Allison Martell in Toronto; editing by Rob Wilson

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