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Auto sales jumped 4 per cent last month in Canada. (David Zalubowski/AP)
Auto sales jumped 4 per cent last month in Canada. (David Zalubowski/AP)

Canadian auto makers break April sales record Add to ...

April was far from the cruellest month for auto makers in Canada. Instead, the industry posted its best April sales on record, marking a strong start to the crucial spring selling season.

Car companies delivered 178,703 vehicles last month, a 4-per-cent jump from April, 2013. The previous record tally for April was set in 2008, just before the market slumped in the Great Recession of 2008-09.

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There doesn’t appear to be any particular reason for the strong results, other than the underlying strength of the market and that “there is still plenty of life in the Canadian consumer,” said Douglas Porter, Bank of Montreal’s chief economist.

“The two main points here are that even with the brutal weather in the opening months of the year, sales are running well above year-ago levels – which were already the best ever – and sales look to have accelerated even further in April, as the weather turned back closer to livable,” Mr. Porter said.

Bank of Nova Scotia economist Carlos Gomes noted that Asia- and Europe-based auto makers picked up market share. Those companies lead in the crossover segment, which is one of the fastest-growing segments in North America.

Canadian vehicle sales hit a record 1.743 million last year, and were 2 per cent ahead of that pace as of the end of April.

It was also a robust month in the United States, where sales hit the 15.6 million seasonally adjusted annual rate level, which auto makers use to measure the health of the U.S. market.

In Canada, sales of trucks, crossovers and sport utility vehicles led the way, as buyers shrugged off high gasoline prices to increase purchases of Chrysler Canada Inc., Ford Motor Co. of Canada Ltd. and Toyota Canada Inc. full-sized pickup trucks. Car sales rose just 1 per cent over all, but General Motors of Canada Ltd., which didn’t share in the pickup bonanza, posted big gains in its sales of small and compact cars and its plug-in hybrid Chevrolet Volt car.

But the biggest winner was Nissan Canada Inc., with a 30-per-cent sales gain. That jump was propelled by the Rogue crossover, which was redesigned for the 2014 model year. Nissan’s performance also got a boost from sales of its new Micra subcompact, which went on sale last month.

With files from Reuters

Follow on Twitter: @gregkeenanglobe

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