February 3, 2009 / 10:41 PM / in 9 years

Canada joins January "global automotive recession"

TORONTO (Reuters) - Auto sales in Canada slumped 25 percent in January from a year earlier, industry figures showed on Tuesday, as a worsening global economy and tight credit conditions kept shoppers out of showrooms.

The decline comes on top of a 21 percent slide in sales in December.

Canadians bought 76,850 vehicles last month compared with 102,831 in January 2008, according to figures from DesRosiers Automotive Consultants Inc.

“Canada has clearly joined the global automotive recession and is bringing a lot of companies with it,” said DesRosiers in a note to clients.

U.S. auto sales fell to a 27-year low in January, after falling 30 percent in December, led by a 55 percent plunge in Chrysler LLC sales.

Sales for General Motors of Canada, the country’s top auto maker, tumbled 46.6 percent to 14,254 vehicles.

GM said truck sales slid 34 percent to 9,220, while car sales dropped a massive 60.3 percent to 5,034 units.

“January sales continued to reflect the overall Canadian market challenges seen at the end of 2008,” Marc Comeau, GM Canada’s vice-president of sales, service and marketing, said in a statement.

He said the company’s new product lineup leaves GM well positioned to respond to improving consumer credit and confidence, “we hope and expect to see in the months ahead as government stimulus efforts and other factors start to take hold in Canada.”

Overall sales at Chrysler Canada plunged 33.6 percent to 11,259 units in the month. Car sales dropped a sharp 53.2 percent, to 2,294 units, while truck sales fell 25.6 percent to 8,965 units.

“It’s no secret that today’s automotive market is tougher than a 10 cent steak,” Reid Bigland, CEO of Chrysler Canada, said in a statement.

Ford Motor Co of Canada sales fell 14.1 percent to 10,933. Car sales fell 20.9 percent to 2,264, while truck sales slid 12.2 percent to 8,869 units.

Toyota Canada Inc, the country’s number two automaker, slid 2.7 percent in January from a year earlier to 10,269 vehicles.

Sales at the automaker’s Toyota division inched up 0.3 percent to 9,681, while its luxury Lexus division sold 588 vehicles for a drop of 35.1 percent.

Honda Canada Inc reported a 37 percent drop in sales to 7,559 units.

“The results for January reflect our expectations,” Jerry Chenkin, executive vice-president of Honda Canada said in a statement.

“Our January results last year, which were twice the monthly average, were unusual and reflected initiatives that we had introduced specially to counter the strong Canadian dollar.”

Reporting by John McCrank and Cameron French; editing by Rob Wilson

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