"The big winners from a brand point of view can be broken out into two groups — the larger mass market brands and the smaller niche market brands," DesRosiers said in a commentary on Tuesday.
"Some of the smaller second-tier brands are blowing away all previous sales records and in many respects, are the key success story this year."
Among the laggards were Ford Canada, which remained No. 1 in terms of sales volume despite a 2.3 per cent decline from May 2013. Hyundai's sales were down 5.2 per cent while Toyota's overall sales rose only one per cent.
Nissan Canada had 28.9 per cent growth, the most of any vendor with at least 10,000 sales per month. Niche players Land Rover rose 40.8 per cent to 500 vehicles, Jaguar was up 38.9 per cent to 150 vehicles and Porsche gained 32.2 per cent to 530 vehicles.
Ford led the pack with 31,747 units sold in May, followed by Chrysler Canada with 31,302 units. Meanwhile, General Motors of Canada — once the auto sector's undisputed market leader — said it had its best May since 2009, with sales rising 11.8 per cent from a year ago to 26,444 vehicles.
Dennis DesRosiers said in an interview that General Motors wasn't hampered by the unusually high number of recall notices issued by the company during the month, suggesting customers were more interested with its current products.
"They've got a lot of good products on the marketplace and they priced them well," DesRosiers said. "I think consumers are seeing past the recalls."
He said there have been so many recalls by so many automakers that consumers are less concerned about GM's spate of announcements than the media have been.
The monthly DesRosiers automotive report shows that overall Canadian sales of cars and light trucks were up 5.7 per cent from May of last year, rising to 195,571 from 185,040.
Trucks accounted for 111,035 of the vehicles sold in Canada last month, up 12.1 per cent last year. Car sales totalled 84,536, down 1.7 per cent from 86,012 a year ago.
Toyota Canada's overall sales rose one per cent to 22,465 from 22,250, although Toyota-branded sales were essentially unchanged while its Lexus luxury brand had a 14.2 per cent increase to 1,789 from 1,566.
Honda Canada sold 18,512 units last month up 12 per cent from 16,723 last year. Sales of its Acura-branded vehicles fell by 1.9 per cent to 2,005 while Honda-branded sales were up 12 per cent to 16,507.
Hyundai dropped 5.2 per cent to 14,732, down from 15,544 in May 2013.
Nissan Canada Inc.'s total sales were 10,658 units, including 821 from the Infiniti division, an overall increase of 27.4 per cent.
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version had incorrect May sales figures for Chrysler.