(Adds commentary from auto analyst)
By Allison Lampert
MONTREAL, March 1 (Reuters) - Automakers on Tuesday mostly reported higher February sales in Canada, with some analysts rethinking earlier forecasts that Canadian demand for light vehicles and trucks would level off this year following a record breaking 2015.
“Fears of a downturn in light vehicle sales in Canada this year are not panning out. At least not yet,” wrote Canadian auto analyst Dennis DesRosiers in a Tuesday note.
DesRosiers, who expects automakers to sell slightly more vehicles in Canada this year compared with 2015, said February auto sales also hit a record for the month.
Only a small number of automakers sold fewer vehicles last month compared with February 2015, with overall sales rising 9 percent, DesRosiers wrote.
Detroit’s Big Three automakers said they sold more vehicles last month, compared with February 2015. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and Ford Motor Co reported their highest February sales since 2000, driven by stronger demand for SUVs and trucks.
Ford said it sold 18,403 vehicles last month, a 23 percent increase compared to February 2015, with demand rising for the Ford F-Series pickup truck.
“New vehicle sales in Canada are off to a fast start this year,” said Dianne Craig, president and chief executive of Ford Motor Company of Canada Ltd, in a news release.
There was a similar trend in the U.S., where carmakers reported on Tuesday that February auto sales soared to a 15-year high for the month, in the latest sign of continued consumer confidence. Auto sales last month rose about 7 percent, helped by low gasoline prices, available and low-interest credit and higher wages.
In Canada, General Motors Co said its Canadian Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac dealers delivered 15,729 vehicles last month, an increase of 14 percent compared with February 2015.
FCA Canada reported a total of 18,813 vehicles sold last month, up 1 percent compared with February 2015, as demand increased for its Jeep and Ram brands.
Subaru Co Ltd reported virtually flat Canadian sales, with 2,543 units sold last month, a 0.2 percent increase compared with February 2015. (Reporting by Allison Lampert; Editing by Grant McCool and Chris Reese)