10/01/2014 04:15 EDT | Updated 12/01/2014 05:59 EST

Canadian auto sales on track for record year

Ford Motors says it continues its reign as Canada's top-selling automaker but GM Canada is experiencing a turnaround with a 34 per cent jump in sales since last year in September.

On Wednesday, Chrysler Canada also reported a 20 per cent increase to 23,742 vehicles sold in September.

The big three North American automakers say they are headed for a record year in 2014 in Canada and the U.S.

There has been pent-up demand for vehicles during the long recession and consumers are starting to feel more optimistic about large purchases.

But September is also a good time to find bargains and incentives from the automakers as they clear out lots to make way for a new model-year.

Ford Canada said it had a 4.6 per cent jump to 27,161 cars and trucks last month, compared with 25,956 a year ago.

GM delivered 24,555 vehicles in September 2014, an increase of 34 per cent from September 2013. Total GM Canada sales are up more than five per cent for the 2014 calendar year.

The Trax and Travers SUVs and Silverado pickup were popular and Buick sales more than doubled for the month with strong demand for small cars Verano and Encore.

Chrysler Canada sold  23,742 vehicles in September, a 20 per cent increase from the same month last year -- thanks to the success of its light trucks and minivans.

The company's biggest seller was the Ram pickup, with 6,590 sold in September.

Minivan sales strong

Canadians also love their minivans with 932 Windsor, Ont.-made Chrysler Town & Country vans sold. Chrysler  is ending production of the Dodge Grand Caravan, which sold 41,220 vehicles so far this year.

“Through Q3 of 2014, Chrysler Canada remains on pace for our highest sales year in history,” said David Buckingham, chief operating officer at Chrysler Canada.

Honda Canada sold 15,005 Honda and Acura vehicles during the month, up eight per cent from a year earlier, as it restocked dealerships. Honda Canada had a 4 percent sales decline in August, hurt by shortages.

Toyota's said its sales rose 6 per cent to 18,335  cars and trucks with truck up 22 per cent from a year earlier, boosted by RAV4.

Big discounts on pickup trucks kept U.S. auto sales strong in September, following on a record pace of sales in August.

About 16.34 million units were sold in the U.S., on a seasonally adjusted annualized basis, down slightly from August but still far above what analysts had expected.

Fiat-Chrysler, GM and Nissan had the strongest performances, as they each posted a 19 per cent gain year over year,  Toyota sales rose two per cent, while Ford and Volkswagen were down.

Most of the gain was powered by light trucks.

TD economist Dina Ignjatovic was optimistic about the auto market for the remainder of the year.

“Going forward, the ongoing unleashing of pent-up demand, improving economic and labor market conditions, and high affordability should continue to prop up new vehicle sales in the coming months.  For the year as a whole, auto sales are likely to come in between 16.3-16.4 million units, which would be the highest level seen since 2006,” she said in a note to investors.