December 2, 2008 / 10:51 PM / in 9 years

Canada November auto sales skid as recession looms

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadians bought about 10 percent fewer vehicles in November than a year earlier as the economy slowed to the verge of recession, according to industry figures released on Tuesday.

Canadian auto sales decreased 10.3 percent year on year to 105,200 vehicles last month, marking a sharp turnaround from the 1.5 percent gain recorded in October.

Consumers held off on buying automobiles and other big-ticket items, heeding forecasts that the country is about to enter recession, defined as two consecutive quarters of contraction.

U.S. sales plunged about 35 percent in November as the slowdown that began there showed signs of spreading to Europe, Asia and Africa, forcing automakers to slash production.

Sales for General Motors of Canada, the country’s top seller, slid 23.5 percent to 21,486 vehicles due to sharp declines in both its truck and car segments.

GM’s truck sales fell 13.1 percent to 13,067, while car sales dropped 35.4 percent to 8,419 units.

Overall sales at Chrysler Canada fell 15.6 percent to 15,560 vehicles. The company’s car sales fell 25.5 percent, to 3,191 units, while truck sales dropped 12.7 percent to 12,369 units.

Ford Motor Co of Canada bucked the trend and said its total sales rose 1.1 percent to 16,144 vehicles in the month. Car sales at Ford fell 13.4 percent to 3,407, while truck sales increased 5.8 percent to 12,737 units.

Toyota Canada Inc recorded a 1.9 percent rise from a year earlier to 12,792 vehicles.

The company said its yearly sales were at 214,406 units, on course to top 2007’s record-setting 201,326 vehicles sold.

Sales at the automaker’s Toyota division increased 0.5 percent to 11,640, while its luxury Lexus division sold 1,152 vehicles for a 19.1 percent rise.

Honda Canada Inc reported a 33 percent drop in sales over the previous November to 9,224 units.

The automaker said sales at its Honda division fell 28 percent to 8,310, while sales at its Acura division slid 59 percent to 914.

Reporting by John McCrank and Frank Pingue; Editing by Frank McGurty

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