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Surging new car sales in Canada could set record

Published December 24, 2012

This year is shaping up to be a banner period for auto sales with a 9.9 per cent jump in 2012 new car purchases made by Canadians compared to last year.

The Canadian Automobile Dealers Association predicts that when the numbers are crunched in the new year we may surpass or come pretty close to the record set a decade ago.

Truck sales have been “less spectacular” but are up by 3.9 per cent over 2011, according to CADA figures.

“With still a month to go for the final numbers for 2012, total sales stood at only 19,000 behind final results for 2011. By the time you read this that number surely will have been eclipsed. The rest of December will provide us with the final market growth for 2012 over 2011,” writes Michael Hatch, the CADA’s chief economist, in the organization’s monthly economic review.

The automobile sector’s growth is in part due to an increase in full-time jobs in Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, Manitoba and Prince Edward Island, which saw employment rise by 59,000 in November, the CADA review states.

While there was very little growth in manufacturing, civic and professional organizations, personal services and repair and maintenance sectors, the significant rise in the workforce occurred in accommodation and food services, retail and wholesale, professional, scientific and technical services and agriculture, Hatch points out.

“Going into the final weeks of the year the retail auto industry continues to outperform the economy at large, which continues to struggle to grow strongly. Most notable this year so far has been the close to 10 per cent growth in car sales over 2011,” Hatch writes in the CADA’s synopsis of current trends in the Canadian economy.

“This rate of growth will be hard to sustain, but many fundamentals point to continued solid growth in demand next year. If we don’t set a new sales record Canada-wide this year, there is every likelihood that we will in 2013,” he adds.

The remarkable growth in Canadian auto sales for November rose significantly higher than October sales, which grew by an impressive 7.8 per cent over the same month last year.

In its overview of new car sales across the country, Desrosiers Automotive Consultants also paints an optimistic picture of the Canadian auto scene.

“October was another big month for the new vehicle industry in Canada. A sales total of 135,476 units represents a gain of 7.8 per cent from the same month last year — and 2011 had one of the best Octobers on record,” the Desrosiers report reads.

“Indeed, this is the best October ever, beating the previous record from 2002 when sales climbed to 134,694 units. This positive performance pushed the SAAR (the seasonally adjusted annualized selling 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.

“In only one year (2002) did we break the 1.7 million mark, and that year saw a not-inconsiderable number of vehicles (at least 25k) exported to Americans due to favourable exchange rates. If you take these export volumes into account, 2012 could be the best year ever,” the Desrosiers report states.

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