Auto sales stayed in overdrive last month in Canada, putting six-month deliveries ahead of the record pace set last year.
Canadians snapped up 175,428 new cars, trucks, crossovers and minivans in June, up 2 per cent from 171,608 a year earlier and making last month the best June on record. The Canadian market has set several monthly records this year after hitting 1.73 million sales in 2013.
Strong vehicle and home sales stand out from the performance of the rest of the Canadian economy, said Doug Porter, Bank of Montreal's chief economist.
"Basically, consumers are still focusing on big-ticket items, largely because interest rates continue to remain incredibly low and consumer confidence has managed to grind higher in the past year," Mr. Porter said.
He noted that monthly sales are rising on a consistent basis and that sales of light trucks are higher than last year despite the recent increases in gas prices.
The jump in the Canadian market came in the same month that auto makers reported their highest U.S. sales since July, 2006. U.S. sales have bounced back more dramatically than Canadian sales – in part because they fell further during the recession – but have not rebounded yet to the point where they're breaking records.
Nonetheless, Mr. Porter said the increase in U.S. sales may be better news for the Canadian economy "as it points to both better production levels here in Canada as well as better times ahead for the broader U.S. economy."
There is some pent-up demand remaining in Canada, Mr. Porter said, but he believes that factor no longer has much of an impact.
Auto makers based in Europe and Japan led the way in June, grabbing 55.1 per cent of the market and posting bigger sales gains than the Canadian units of the Detroit Three auto makers.
Ford Motor Co. of Canada Ltd. and Chrysler Canada Inc. grabbed the monthly and year-to-date sales titles respectively.
Ford sales rose 7 per cent, propelled by a 10 per cent jump in sales of light trucks.
Sales of Chrysler Canada vehicles rose 3 per cent, which was the 55th-straight monthly sales incease for the company.
But those gains were outpaced among mainstream manufacturers by Nissan Canada Inc., with a 27-per-cent jump, and Volkswagen Canada Inc. with an 11-per-cent gain.
Honda Canada Inc. and Subaru Canada Inc. also outperformed the market with gains of 8 per cent.
But the best results were turned in by some of the luxury manufacturers.
Porsche Canada sales surged 66 per cent, which led to its best month yet in Canada.
Deliveries soared 36 per cent for Land Rover Canada.
General Motors of Canada Ltd. trailed the field, with a 15-per-cent slump. GM dealers sold 21,007 vehicles in Canada last month, compared with 24,707 a year earlier.
The slide took GM's market share to 11.9 per cent in the month.
South Korea-based auto makers Hyundai Auto Canada Corp. and Kia Canada Inc. also posted sales declines and lost market share.
Hyundai sales fell 6 per cent, while Kia's dropped 5 per cent.