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Canadian auto sales still reach new highs

Published August 13, 2014

For the third month in a row, Canadian consumers have driven — if you’ll pardon the pun — light vehicle sales to record numbers, snapping up 176,995 new vehicles.

That is an 11.3 per cent increase over last July.

Canadian drivers’ passion for light trucks continues, as the market share for those vehicles increased by more than 2 per cent, to 57.8 per cent as sales volume increased by 16.3 per cent over last year. Passenger car sales also increased in July, improving by 5.1 per cent.

The race for the top six spots continues to be a royal dogfight, as Ford and Chrysler duke it out for the top spot with 28,911 and 27,894 units respectively, making for increases of 15 per cent and 7 per cent.

Even while weathering the storm of faulty ignition switches, General Motors experienced a healthy bump in sales of 25.1 per cent (23,973 vehicles) to stay in third spot. Toyota remains strong in the fourth spot, having sold 16,610 vehicles, which is a modest increase of 2 per cent over 2013.

The battle between Honda and Hyundai continues to be a great one, as Honda experienced an increase of 8.3 per cent to 14,574 vehicles, which was just 470 units ahead of the Korean automaker, who improved by 3.6 per cent.

The premium brand market was a mixed bag of results in July. Audi (16.8%), BMW(15.7%) and Infiniti (5.1%) saw tidy increases, while Land Rover (55.6%) and Porsche (73.3%) knocked it out of the park. Not so fortunate, were Acura (-18.6%), Jaguar (-5.6%), Lexus (-1.2%), Mercedes-Benz (-3.2%) and Volvo (-24.7%).

Elsewhere on the charts, smaller manufacturers saw equally impressive gains as Mitsubishi (24.7%), Nissan (43.3%), Smart (25.1%) and Volkswagen (50.9%) sales soared. Mazda (1.4%) and Subaru (10.5%) also improved, while Kia (-17.2%) could not keep up with their record sales from last year and Mini saw a drop of 2.1 per cent.

There truly were too many sales records achieved by individual automakers to mention all of them, but they ranged from best July on record, to consecutive record months to overall best months.

Ontario speed limits will not be increased

Early in July, the government in British Columbia announced that the results of their Rural Highway Safety and Speed Review, which polled residents to get their opinion on highway speed limits, would see an increase in the posted limit in some areas of the province.

The study found that a remarkable 81 per cent of residents in the Lower Mainland supported increased speeds, while those in Metro Vancouver did not. The changed limits reflect those regional opinions. The highest speed limit in the province is now 120 km/h, while many rural roads that were previously 80 km/h have been raised to 100.

In a similar vein, Quebec’s Ministry of Transportation has announced a pilot project to see if variable speed limits, based on weather, are viable. The idea is that in good weather, the limits could be higher, while in inclement weather the posted limit would be decreased. Motorists would be informed of the changes via electronic display panels.

" target="_blank">Speed limits in Ontario have been a frequent topic of discussion here in Wheels of late. The Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) has long been opposed to increased highway speed limits based on their assessment of traffic safety statistics.

Bob Nichols, Senior Media Liaison Officer for MTO, tells me that the department reviews speed limits every three to five years and that, “in 2012, speed limits on 400-series highways were reviewed in detail and a decision was made not to increase them.”

The MTO’s decisions have been based on a variety of factors, ranging from highway engineering features to adjacent land use, types of vehicle traffic and collision history.

What seems to be missing from the equation here in Ontario, unlike British Columbia, is any sort of input from actual highway users. Nichols tells me that, “We understand there are differing opinions on speed limits and we welcome public input on all road safety matters.”

However, for the time being, polling citizens is not being considered.

As one who would prefer to see the speed limits raised on our highways, I believe that B.C. has it right by involving motorists in their decision-making process and I think it is important for the MTO to hear our opinions.

If you want to share your thoughts on Ontario’s speed limits, you can send them an email at MTOINFO@ontario.ca or through the contact page at www.mto.gov.on.ca

Porsche Canada names new Marketing Director

Following the recent departure of Laurance Yap, Porsche Canada has named Alexander Schildt as their new Marketing Director.

Schildt has been with Porsche AG since 2005, when he signed on as Product Manager for the Panamera. Product planning has been Schildt’s primary role since then, first in the United States and most recently in China.

wheels@thestar.ca

Shannonville Motorsport Park is for sale

Have you heard the news? Shannonville Motorsport Park is for sale.

Owned for the past 23 years by the affable Jean Gauthier, who is retiring, the Belleville-area racing facility is officially on the block.

Shannonville was opened in the late 1970s. Starting with the 1.8-km “Nelson” circuit (named for the circuit’s owner, the late John Nelson) it was also owned over the years by Jack Boxstrom and Raymond David, patron of the late racer Bertrand Fabi, after whom the 2.23-km “Fabi” circuit is named. After Fabi was killed testing a Formula Three car in England (he was considered a “coming man” and his death made the cover of the British Bible of Motorsport, Autosport magazine), David lost interest and sold the facility to Gauthier, who has spent his time building the business ever since.

His decision to link the Nelson and Fabi circuits, and thus create the 2.47-km “Pro Circuit,” was considered the stuff of genius.

Motorcycle racing, CASC automobile racing and drag racing are featured at the property, which can be seen on the south side of Highway 401 between Belleville and Napanee.

Interested? Email Jean at jgauthier@shannonville.com

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