October 1, 2008 / 9:01 PM / in 9 years

Canadian vehicle sales nudge higher in September

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadians bought more vehicles in September as import namebrands, which have traditionally focused on smaller, more fuel efficient vehicles, kept chipping away at the market share of the Detroit-based Big Three.

<p>A sign frames the exterior of the DaimlerChrysler Bramalea plant in Brampton, Ontario, January 29, 2001. REUTERS/Andrew Wallace</p>

Automakers sold 134,131 vehicles overall in Canada in the month, up 1.7 percent year-over-year, industry figures released on Wednesday showed.

Import brands saw sales rise a collective 7.8 percent in the month, while sales for the Detroit Three fell 4.7 percent.

Sales for General Motors of Canada, the country’s top seller, slid 7 percent to 31,053 vehicles, mainly due to weaker sales of light trucks, a category that includes pickups and SUVs.

“Consumers continued the trend of purchasing more fuel-efficient small cars and crossovers in September,” said Marc Comeau, vice-president of sales, service, and marketing at GM of Canada.

GM’s truck sales fell by 12.7 percent to 15,502, while car sales nudged 0.5 percent lower to 15,551.

Ford Motor Co of Canada sold 12,976 vehicles in the month, down 6.4 percent from a year earlier. Car sales fell 4.9 percent to 3,224, while truck sales dropped 6.9 percent to 9,776 units.

Sales at Chrysler Canada edged up by 0.6 percent to 17,112 vehicles. Car sales fell 15.4 percent to 2,951, while truck sales jumped 4.7 percent to 14,161, fueled by incentives that the company said it would continue into October.

Toyota Canada Inc, ranked No. 2 in Canada by sales, recorded its ninth-consecutive month of record sales, up 14.9 percent from a year earlier to 19,413 vehicles.

Sales at the automaker’s Toyota division increased 13.5 percent to 18,062, while its luxury Lexus division sold 1,351 vehicles for a 37.6 percent rise.

“This year’s spike in the cost of gasoline has Canadians reassessing their transportation needs,” said Warren Orton, director at Toyota Canada, which claims to have the most fuel-efficient car fleet in the country.

Honda Canada Inc reported 0.3 percent increase in sales over the previous September to 14,889 units.

The automaker said sales at its Honda division fell 4 percent to 12,841, while sales at its Acura division climbed 34 percent to 2,048.

Reporting by John McCrank; Editing by Peter Galloway

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