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New motor vehicle sales

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The Daily

Wednesday, March 14, 2007
January 2007

Following two strong monthly increases, new motor vehicle sales declined 3.3% in January. However, the 144,136 vehicles sold in January was the second highest sales level in the last 18 months, exceeded only by December 2006.

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Sales of new motor vehicles finished strongly in 2006, after a weak September and October following the removal of dealer incentive programs. Sales through the summer months were helped by dealer promotions such as employee pricing and cash-back rewards. Before the summer spike, sales had been relatively stable from the end of 2005 through the first half of 2006.

Based on preliminary sales data from the automotive industry, the number of new motor vehicles sold in February declined approximately 4% due to lower sales for both passenger cars and trucks.

Note to readers

All data in this release are seasonally adjusted.

Passenger cars include those used for personal and commercial purposes, such as taxis or rental cars. Trucks include minivans, sport-utility vehicles, light and heavy trucks, vans and buses.

North American built new motor vehicles include vehicles manufactured or assembled in Canada, the United States or Mexico. All other new motor vehicles are considered to have been manufactured overseas.

For reasons of confidentiality, data for Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut are included with those for British Columbia.

The New Motor Vehicle Sales Survey is compiled on the basis of figures obtained from motor vehicle manufacturers and importers. These results may vary from those obtained directly from auto dealers, due to possible differences in record keeping.

Sales plunge for North American-built passenger cars

Passenger car sales fell 7.0% in January to 70,722 vehicles. This decrease was due entirely to lower sales of North American-built passenger cars which plunged 11.0%. This decline in North American-built passenger cars follows two large monthly sales gains in November (+9.4%) and December (+8.4%). Sales of overseas-built passenger cars increased 1.4% in January, a second consecutive monthly increase.

Declines in passenger car sales in January partially offset the gains in the preceding two months. Sales had rebounded in November (+5.4%) and December (+6.1%) following a 7.7% decline in October. Previously, passenger car sales had been relatively flat during the second half of 2005 through to the third quarter of 2006.

Consumers purchased more trucks than cars

Consumers preferred trucks over passenger cars in January, purchasing 73,415 trucks for an increase of 0.5% over December. This was the fourth consecutive monthly increase for trucks (which include minivans, sport-utility vehicles, light and heavy trucks, vans and buses), and the highest sales level since July 2005.

At the beginning of 2006, truck sales were fairly flat before spiking in August with the introduction of dealer incentive programs. Sales fell in September, offsetting some of the gains made in July and August. Truck sales rebounded in the fourth quarter, and continued to rise at the start of 2007.

Truck sales took 51% of the new motor vehicle market share in January. This was only the second time in eight years that more trucks were sold than passenger cars. In 2006, the average market share for trucks was about 48%.

Sales down in most provinces

Six provinces posted lower new motor vehicle sales in January. Manitoba (-6.1%) posted the largest drop, offsetting a 6.0% gain in December. British Columbia and Quebec followed, each with a decline of 4.6% during the month. Sales in Ontario also fell in January, declining 4.0%. After three consecutive monthly increases, sales of new motor vehicles also decreased in Newfoundland and Labrador (-4.5%) and New Brunswick (-1.0%) in January.

On the heels of a 12.4% surge in new motor vehicles sales in December, Alberta sales edged up an additional 0.2% in January to 22,342 vehicles. Sales of new motor vehicles in Alberta had been strong through the first half of 2006 before slowing in September.

Prince Edward Island (+7.7%) posted the largest sales gain, achieving the highest sales level since November 2005. Saskatchewan (+1.2%) and Nova Scotia (+0.7%) also posted sales gains in January.

Available on CANSIM: tables 079-0001 and 079-0002.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number 2402.

The January issue of New Motor Vehicle Sales (63-007-XWE, free) will be available soon.

Data on new motor vehicle sales for February will be released on April 16.

For general information or to order data, contact Client Services (toll-free 1-877-421-3067; 613-951-3549; To enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Ashley Ker (613-951-2252), Distributive Trades Division.

Tables. Table(s).