A fierce struggle to wear the crown of Canada’s best-selling car is shaping up to be a fight for the ages – and one that is leaving a wake of carnage behind.
Honda Canada, battling to retain the Civic’s status as Canada’s best-selling car for a 15th straight year, is locking horns with a Hyundai Canada obviously committed to unseating the Civic with its compact Elantra.
Bolstered by surprisingly generous incentives, Elantra sales are up 12.8 per cent at the halfway point this year – with June sales up a staggering 20.7 per cent, says a report from DesRosiers Automotive Consultants. Civic sales are down 11.2 per cent this year, though June saw a nice, healthy 4.1 per cent increase. On the year, the Elantra has a slim 305-vehicle lead in total sales over the Civic – 28,863 to 28,558.
Meanwhile, Canada’s leading compact cars are being bloodied by the Civic-Elantra duel:
- Toyota Corolla was down 5.7 per cent in June and is down 0.1 per cent on the year;
- Mazda3 was down 21.4 per cent in June and is down 4.3 on the year
- Chevrolet Cruze sales were down 11.3 per cent in June, and down 0.7 per cent on the year;
- Ford Focus sales were down 24.2 per cent in June and are down 9.3 per cent on the year.
One exception among compact cars in the Top 10 is the Volkswagen Jetta. Boosted by a price decrease and sales sweeteners to boot, Jetta sales were up 6.7 in June and are up a whopping 23.0 per cent on the year.
How committed is Hyundai to this race to the top? The South Korean auto maker has scaled back its marketing support for the subcompact Accent, with the result being a year-on-year sales decline of 24.2 per cent. Hyundai is putting real muscle behind the Elantra, without a doubt – and pulling resources from elsewhere to do it. This race will go down to the wire, without question.
Elsewhere, Ford’s F-Series pickup just keeps chugging along, notes DesRosiers. F-Series sales were up 12.0 per cent in June, while on the year sales are up 17.5 per cent. Ford’s full-size pickup lineup has already locked up the title of Canada’s best-selling vehicle overall for 2013.
As for other sales winners at the halfway pole:
- Ford Fusion mid-size car sales are up 26.5 per cent;
- Ram pickup sales are up 19.5 per cent;
- Ford Escape sales are up 12.7 per cent;
- Hyundai Santa Fe Sport sales are up 12.7 per cent.
It’s also worth noting that Toyota’s reinvented RAV4 compact utility is winning over customers, despite sub-par crash test scores by the highly regarded Insurance Institute for Highway Safety IIHS). The 2013 RAV4 earned a “poor” rating in the IIHS’s small overlap front crash test – despite making “additional changes to models built after April to better control the stability of the steering column and to provide extra padding under the footwell carpeting.”
Added the IIHS, “A combination of poor structure and inadequate control of the dummy’s movement prevented the RAV4 from earning better than a poor rating overall.”
In fairness to the RAV4, the IIHS notes that among small SUVs, only the Subaru Forester and Mitsubishi Outlander Sport earned a good or acceptable rating for occupant protection in this demanding test. Eleven other small SUVs earned marginal or poor scores.
Still, despite its weak crash test performance, sales of the made-in-Canada RAV4 are up 36.3 per cent this year. The Toyota brand is strong and its owners are loyal, without a doubt.
Here’s a look at Canada’s top 10 cars and light trucks through June 2013:
Hyundai Santa Fe Sport
Source: DesRosiers Automotive Consultants