Canada auto sales fall as interest rates bite

Fiat Chrysler assembly workers work on partially assembled minivans at the Windsor Assembly Plant in Windsor, Ontario, February 9, 2015. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook/File Photo

(Reuters) - Canada’s auto sales fell for the sixth straight month in August, as rising interest rates put a damper on demand for new cars.

Overall sales fell 1.6 percent to 180,900 units, with the country's biggest carmaker, General Motors Co GM.N, recording a 10 percent drop in sales.

Ford, however, helped offset some of those losses by posting gains of slightly over 7 percent. It also sold the highest number of vehicles in the month.

Higher interest rates and protracted cycle of sales growth has contributed to the slight tailing off of sales, said David Adams, president of the Global Automakers of Canada.

The Bank of Canada has raised here interest rates four times so far this year and signaled more rate hikes to come as the country grapples with the pressures of rising inflation.

Passenger car sales declined 10.6 percent to 52,842 units, while light truck sales rose 2.6 percent to 128,100 units, according to research firm DesRosiers Automotive Consultants.

Fiat Chrysler FCAU.N, which is among the top four carmakers, recorded a 9.6 percent drop in sales, while Toyota registered a modest 2.4 percent rise.

The Ford F-Series pick-up truck was Canada’s best-selling vehicle through three quarters, Adam added.

Top automakers earlier in the day pointed to a small increase in U.S. auto sales for the month of August including another sharp rise in SUV sales, as low unemployment and strong consumer confidence helped mitigate the impact of rising interest rates and fuel prices.

Reporting by Laharee Chatterjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Anil D’Silva