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Driving It Home

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2012 Chrysler 200 (Chrysler/Chrysler)
2012 Chrysler 200 (Chrysler/Chrysler)

Driving it home

Canada's best-selling vehicles: Cruze stumbles, Chrysler 200 soars Add to ...

The compact Chevrolet Cruze has stumbled, and it’s a baffling development for more than a few wizened observers of the auto industry. Cruze sales were down nearly 17 per cent through the end of April, and they fell a staggering 29 per cent in April alone.



“One would have expected better from this vehicle, since it is a very good product and GM doesn’t have much else at that size to sell,” says auto analyst Dennis DesRosiers in a note to clients. “[GM]also cancelled Pontiac in 2009, which should have boosted sales of the Cruze. GM is doing much better on the light truck side of the industry with Silverado and Sierra up nicely in the month, although weak YTD [year to date]”

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Sierra sales for the first third of the year are about flat, but Silverado is off 5 per cent. It’s no secret that GM is planning an all-new for both next year. The ups and downs of Sierra/Silverado can almost certainly be traced directly to the marketing efforts of both GM Canada and its rivals at Ford (with their F150) and Chrysler (with their Ram). The F-Series is up nicely on the year (6.7 per cent) and so is the Ram (19.7 per cent).

Potential buyers of both will find some pretty healthy sales sweeteners in play, as will those looking at Sierra and Silverado. Those with the best combination of product and sales incentives are almost without a doubt faring the best. Ford’s pickup truck offering has the newest power train lineup in the segment, and Chrysler Canada is aggressively pitching the Ram in light of the fact that an all-new Ram is due in the fall.

Okay, on to another oddity. In April, sales of the Chrysler 200 midsize sedan spiked more than 160 per cent, putting the 200 among the Top 10 best sellers for the month. Factory sales incentives certainly were at play, but something more could also be at work here. Indeed, sales of midsize cars across the board are up 24 per cent on the year.

“We think this is because fleet sales are very strong,” says DesRosiers. “Fleet sales were weak for quite some time and they are playing catch up. Same with vehicles primarily for commercial use, like pickup trucks and panel vans. These sales were incredibly weak in 2008 to 2010 and are coming back very strong.”

Subcompact car sales are up nearly 25 per cent this year, which could be in response to higher fuel prices. The problem with that theory is the fact that sales of almost as fuel efficient compact cars are up a measly 1.1 per cent. Go figure. Luxury car sales are healthy, too, and they are hardly fuel-sippers. Ditto for sporty luxury cars, which are up more than 30 per cent in 2012.

DesRosiers points out that “the entire market is moving more towards premium/luxury brands for a number of reasons, which I’ve written about extensively, and it is not surprising that sales in these segments lead the industry YTD with sales up 11.2 per cent.”

The overall numbers suggest that those in the middle of the market are getting new midsize cars, while the working types who drive trucks are moving into something new, too. Buyers who really care about fuel economy are snapping up little grocery-getters, and skipping right past some very solid compact models.

Small pickup sales, on the other hand, have fallen off a cliff (down 22.2 per cent), while minivan sales are weak, too (down 4.9 per cent overall, while the market-leading Dodge Caravan has slipped more than 10 per cent this year).

Here’s a look at Canada’s top 10 cars and light trucks through April 2012:

Passenger Cars



Car

2012

2011

% gain/loss

1

Honda Civic

20,288

17,181

18.1%

2

Hyundai Elantra

16,236

14,528

11.8%

3

Toyota Corolla

13,230

13,480

-1.9%

4

Mazda3

11,894

10,720

11.0%

5

Chevrolet Cruze

9,599

11,528

-16.7%

6

Ford Focus

7,814

6,444

21.3%

7

Volkswagen Jetta

7,393

8,522

-13.2%

8

Hyundai Accent

7,298

6,781

7.6%

9

Toyota Camry

6,551

2,878

127.6%

10

Hyundai Sonata

5,609

6,263

-10.4%



Light Trucks



Truck

2012

2011

% gain/loss

1

Ford F-Series

31,669

29,669

6.7%

2

Ram pickup

21,737

18,163

19.7%

3

Dodge Caravan

16,957

18,895

-10.3%

4

GMC Sierra

13,218

13,194

-0.2%

5

Honda CR-V

11,775

9,406

25.2%

6

Ford Escape

11,527

13,031

-11.5%

7

Chevrolet Silverado

11,050

11,632

-5.0%

8

Dodge Journey

9,014

11,123

-19.0%

9

Toyota RAV4

7,231

8,698

-16.9%

10

Hyundai Santa Fe

6,896

7,565

-8.8%

Source: DesRosiers Automotive Consultants

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