Canadian auto sales down in 2019

New vehicles ready for sale at a car dealership. © Can Stock Photo / alexeys

Canadians bought fewer vehicles last year, though industry analysts say there’s no cause for concern.

Automotive News Canada published on Monday the sales figures from all foreign and domestic makes that are sold in Canada. Throughout 2019, sales fell 3.6 per cent compared to all of 2018. Fewer than 1,923,000 vehicles were sold last year, with just a shade over 1,996,000 sold the year before.

Dennis DesRosiers, head of DesRosiers Automotive Consultants in Toronto, told Automotive News that the figures reflected what was previously forecast, and he pointed out that vehicle sales surpassed the 1.9 million mark in Canada for the fourth year in a row.

“We predicted the market to be down three or four per cent, and that’s exactly what happened,” DesRosiers said. “You can make a lot of money in a 1.9 million market.”

For the fourth quarter of 2019, 110,370 vehicles were sold across the country, a 4.6 per cent drop from 2018.

Fiat-Chrysler Canada reported its 2019 sales numbers on Friday, with a slight drop of less than one per cent from the year before. However, sales for light vehicles rose 7.5 per cent in the fourth quarter for the automaker, thanks to strong performances in the showroom by the Dodge Ram pickup truck, and the Jeep Wrangler and Grand Cherokee models.

The most prominent performer in Canada was Ford, whose vehicles made the automaker the most popular across the country, with a total of 288,055 sold, a 3.4 per cent decline from 2018. The popular F-series of pickup trucks remain the top-selling overall model in Canada for the 10th straight year. It has also been Canada’s most-popular pickup truck every year since 1966. Sales for the Ford EcoSport SUV rose by 16 per cent in 2019, and the full Expedition SUV’s sales doubled.

General Motors saw the most significant yearly decline of 2019 among Detroit’s Big Three automakers, with a 10.9 per cent sales drop. However, there was a slight rebound in fourth-quarter sales, and the automaker saw continued growth for crossovers, light trucks and electric vehicles.

Among Asian automakers, Toyota is still number one in Canada, despite a 16.3 per cent fall in the fourth quarter. South Korea’s Hyundai-Kia was second, and Japan’s Honda was third. For European makes, Volkswagen topped the Canadian market with over 112,500 sold throughout 2019, a five per cent decline from 2018. Mercedes-Benz and Audi were a distant second and third, respectively.