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Ford Motor Co.BOGDAN CRISTEL/Reuters

Auto makers in Canada had their best October ever, pushing industry sales up nearly 7 per cent from a year ago and putting sales on track for what could be a record year.

Overall vehicle sales in Canada rose 7.8 per cent year-over-year last month to 135,476, compared with 125,680 in October 2011, according to DesRosiers Automotive Consultants.

"This is the best October ever, beating the previous record from 2002 when sales climbed to 134,694 units," Dennis DesRosiers said in a commentary Thursday. "This positive performance pushed the [seasonally-adjusted annual rate] up to 1.78 million units, setting up Canada to see as many as 1.7 million units sold on a full-year basis."

Mr. DesRosiers noted that sales have only broken the 1.7 million mark in one other year, 2002, when about 25,000 of those vehicles were sold to Americans buying because of favourable exchange rates. "If you take these export volumes into account, 2012 could be the best year ever."

Car sales were up 16.3 per cent in October, while truck sales grew at a slower 1.7 per cent pace. For the year, car sales were up 10.1 per cent, compared to 4.1 per cent for trucks. Still, more trucks have been sold than cars so far this year and truck sales comprise 54.4 per cent of the market.

Ford Motor Co. of Canada Ltd. claimed the title of Canada's top-selling automaker for the month and for the year so far, taking about 17 per cent of the market share year-to-date.

The Canadian division of the U.S. automaker said Thursday its overall sales grew seven per cent to 20,565 vehicles from 19,190 in October 2011, largely driven by a 17-per-cent jump in car sales. Truck sales were also up, with a 5-per-cent increase over last October.

Meanwhile, rival Chrysler Canada Inc. said sales increased 2.7 per cent in its best October since 2002, also marking its 35th consecutive month of year-over-year sales growth. Chrysler said vehicle sales totalled 17,504 last month, up from 17,049 in October 2011.

Meanwhile, DesRosiers reports that sales at General Motors of Canada Ltd. fell 4.6 per cent to 18,651 vehicles sold, leaving it the only one of the big U.S. automakers with slower sales this year. Still, it managed to squeeze out Chrysler as the number two player in the month, though Chrysler still claims that spot on a year-to-date basis.

Foreign nameplates continue to gain traction against the Detroit players and now hold about 55 per cent of market share.

Toyota Canada Inc. said preliminary estimates indicate sales jumped 11 per cent from last October and sales of its luxury Lexus vehicles were up 23 per cent. And Honda Canada Inc. reported a 20-per-cent increase in vehicle sales in October compared with a year ago, led by a 28-per-cent increase in its Acura luxury division.

DesRosiers pointed out that 13 automakers saw double-digit increases last month with some of the biggest growth coming at Kia Motors Corp., which was up 24.1 per cent, Subaru, 31.2 per cent higher, Suzuki Canada Inc., up 25.3 per cent and Volkswagen Canada Inc., where sales grew 24.8 per cent. Most luxury automakers did well last month, with Porsche Automobil Holding SE sales up 116.7 per cent, Audi AG sales growing 37.6 per cent and BMW Canada Inc. sales up 14 per cent.