BUSINESS

March auto sales up 1.9 per cent from year ago mark, DesRosiers reports

04/01/2015 04:02 EDT | Updated 06/01/2015 05:59 EDT
TORONTO - Sales of new cars and light trucks were up 1.9 per cent last month compared with a year ago to make it the all-time best March for automakers in Canada, according to a report by DesRosiers Automotive Consultants.

The increase in sales to 160,274 compared with 157,228 a year ago came as improved truck sales overpowered a drop in car sales.

In a report, DesRosiers said light truck sales were up 5.4 per cent to 95,952 compared with 91,019 a year ago, while care sales slipped 2.9 per cent to 64,322 from 66,209.

Sales for the year to date are up 2.7 per cent compared with the first quarter of 2014.

However, DesRosiers struck a note of caution about the prospects for the rest of the year.

"While the market is off to a positive start for the year, we do caution that, at this time of year, a number of sales approaches employed by vehicle distributors may result in over-estimating the actual retail marketplace," the automotive consulting firm said in a statement.

"January to March are three of the slowest months of the year for new vehicle sales and because volumes are so low these sales tactics can impact actual market performance, especially at a brand level. We will wait to see how the market develops in the key Spring selling season.

Fiat Chrysler claimed the top spot in Canada with sales of 25,060, up from 24,649 a year ago, helped by its popular Ram trucks which made up about 40 per cent of its sales for the month.

"The Ram brand continues to be one of the key determinants in our sales growth," FCA Canada chief operating officer Dave Buckingham said in statement.

"In fact, March marked an all-time sales high for the brand with over 10,000 units sold."

Meanwhile, Ford and General Motors battled for second place.

Ford Canada saw its sales flip to 21,367 for the year, down from 22,390 a year ago, while General Motors sales dropped to 21,027 from 21,790 a year ago.

Toyota was the fastest selling non-North American brand in Canada with 15,003 vehicles sold, down from 15,803 a year ago.