BUSINESS
03/01/2013 10:36 EST | Updated 05/01/2013 05:12 EDT

February car and truck sales down from 2012 as Japanese automakers slide

Car and light truck sales in Canada slipped 3.3 per cent last month compared with a year ago as several of the major Japanese automakers were hit by weaker sales, according to DesRosiers Automotive Consultants.

The consulting firm reported Friday light vehicle sales for Februay totalled 103,226, down 3.3 per cent from 106,712 in the same month in 2011.

Passenger car sales fell 4.2 per cent to 44,359 from 46,285, while light truck sales slipped 2.6 per cent to 58,867 from 60,427.

"Mazda was the only ray of light amongst the mainstream Japanese brands with Toyota, Honda and Nissan all showing notable declines," DesRosiers said in a report.

"As in January, weakness was also seen among the Korean brands with both Hyundai and Kia down, albeit from very strong comparables."

Honda Canada reported combined sales of 7,823 units in February under the Honda brand and its luxury Acura division, down 12 per cent from the same period last year.

The company says Honda sales were down 13 per cent to 6,873 units, while Acura sales decreased by five per cent to 950 units over last year.

Meanwhile, Toyota sales slipped 13.6 per cent to 9,958, from 11,523 a year ago. Sales at its luxury nameplate, Lexus, were down 5.1 per cent at 817, compared with 861 in February 2012.

Mazda gained 2.1 per cent, while Nissan slipped 14.9 per cent.

Among the big North American automakers, Chrysler led the way, narrowly beating out Ford for the top spot for the month.

Chrysler sold 16,832 vehicles in Canada in February, a two per cent increase over last year when the company sold 16,536 vehicles.

The company said the results were its best since 2000 and its 39th consecutive month of year-over-year sales growth, the longest such streak in its history.

Meanwhile, Ford Canada also reported an increase in vehicle sales in February compared with the same month last year.

However, its overall total of 16,301 cars and light trucks, although up 5.4 per cent from 15,461 last year, still remained behind that of Chrysler.

Its two-month total of 32,498 vehicles was up 6.8 per cent from the 30,439 in 2012.

Ford said its February total included 3,742 cars and 12,559 trucks as the auto maker said it remained the Canadian leader in truck sales.

General Motors was third with 13,987 vehicles sold in the month, down 1.9 per cent from a year ago when it sold 14,258.

Despite the drop in overall sales, DesRosiers said the February sales were still respectable and were the fourth best February on record.

"We await the warmer weather in March to remove the blanket of snow and give us a peek under the covers as to the spring selling season and the direction of the market in 2013," DesRosiers said.