TORONTO - Sales of cars and light trucks in Canada slipped every so slightly last month compared with the recording-setting pace set in March 2012.
According to data compiled by DesRosiers Automotive consultants, sales totalled 156,680 in March, down 0.7 per cent from 157,749 a year ago.
"March 2012 was the best March sales total on record, so the 2013 performance is certainly encouraging," DesRosiers wrote in a report to clients Tuesday.
However, the firm noted that the near identical sales hid shifts in the market which saw those at Ford and Chrylser make gains, while General Motors lost ground.
Ford Motor Co. of Canada says it was the bestselling automaker in the country last month as sales of its popular F-150 pickup truck helped push results higher.
The company says overall sales were up two per cent compared with a year ago for a total of 25,092, up from 24,690. F-150 sales were up 23 per cent.
Meanwhile, car sales slipped to 6,046 for the month, down from 6,157 in March 2012. Total truck sales came to 19,046, up from 18,533.
While Ford claimed the top spot, Chrysler Canada reported a six per cent increase in monthly sales for March to bring its sales to 24,173, up from 22,703 in March 2012.
Chrysler said it was the company's best March sales since 2000 and marked 40 consecutive months of year-over-year sales growth.
Sales at General Motors, according to DesRosiers, fell 10.9 per cent from a year ago to 20,218 from 22,684.
DesRosiers noted that Honda and its Acura nameplate posted gains, while Toyota and its luxury Lexus brand saw sales drop compared with a year ago.
"Both high volume Japanese manufacturers finished the quarter with market share losses, Toyota/Lexus experiencing a more pronounced 0.9 point slide versus Honda's 0.5 point year-to-date decline," DesRosiers said.
"Honda/Acura's gains were isolated entirely to the Acura luxury brand, with mainline Honda models pacing last year's March total almost directly. Toyota/Lexus, on the other hand, saw similar volume reductions across both Toyota and Lexus brands."
Honda reported sales totalled 12,769 for the month, about the same as a year ago, while its Acura division sold 1,728 vehicles, up 92 per cent compared with a year ago.
"While not enough to offset our declines in January and February, the March results show that Canadians are strongly accepting Honda's core sedans, the 2013 Fit, Civic and Accord," said Dave Gardner, Honda Canada's vice-president of sales and marketing.
"We expect a solid second quarter to get us back into positive year over year growth."
Toyota sales totalled 15,065, down from 16,054, while Lexus sales fell to 1,221 compared with 1,288 a year ago.
Meanwhile, Nissan reported its Infiniti brand recorded its best-ever sales month at 1,024 units, up 16.1 per cent over the same month last year.
Nissan division sales were 7,437 units for March, down 12.9 per cent.
Mazda Canada said it sold 8,153 vehicles in the month, up five per cent from 7,779 in March 2012, led by the Mazda3. The compact car put in its best March since 2010 and second-best March ever with 4,848 sold, up 25 per cent from a year ago.
Volkswagen Canada reported sales of 5,884 new cars and light trucks for the month, up from 5,064 a year ago, as sales of its popular Jetta totalled 3,001.
Kia Canada reported 5,877 new vehicles sold in March, down 11.3 per cent from a year ago.