Car sales in Canada were down 75 per cent in April
April showed the full effect the of COVID-19 shutdown
But we were still better off than the UK, whose sales dropped 97.3 per cent and India who didn’t sell any cars at all.
Much of Canada has been shut down to help slow the spread of COVID-19, and that has meant fewer car sales as well. But with most of the lockdowns starting in mid-March, April is the first month where we’ve seen the full effect. And it’s been a devastating effect, enough that it may have caused at least one more automaker to join the list of those reporting sales only quarterly instead of monthly, announced just days before the results would normally have been posted.
With much of March offering business as usual, sales were still down nearly half compared with the same month in 2019. April showed the full effect, though, with DesRosiers Automotive Consultants showing a drop just shy of 75 per cent. While Ford, GM, Fiat Chrysler, and now Nissan (among others) have moved to quarterly reporting (and some brands skip reporting sales altogether), here’s a look at the brands that have posted April 2020 sales.
Mazda reported April sales that dropped 81.1 percent for April 2020 compared with the year before. Sales of the Mazda3 were affected the most with that car down 89.7 percent. Dropping the least was the CX-9, down 68.8 percent, suggesting that the buying pinch was most felt by buyers at the lower end of the market.
Last year, Subaru sold 5,220 vehicles in April. Last month, just 1,290 Subarus were sold, a drop of 75 percent, coming after a long run of strong sales for that brand.
While Toyota normally reports on sales monthly, this month the automaker said it was unable to give us those figures. With results for March seeing a 48.9 percent decline from a year before, and both Toyota and Lexus posting near-identical drops, it’s likely that those brands saw the same steep decline as the rest of the industry in April.
Director of Toyota Sales and Field Operations Jamie Humphries said in a statement that “our current focus is to ensure our experience meets or exceeds the expectations of our customers – especially when it comes to safety and convenience. We are instituting measures such as contactless sales and service protocols, physical distancing measures, stringent sanitization and remote service/sales processes. Our goal is to ensure our customers continue to feel confident and safe doing business with us.”
Kia Canada VP and COO Elias El-Achhab told us that sales for that brand were down 77 percent to just under 1,700 vehicles in April. He pointed out that while the industry as a whole saw a steep decline, retail sales didn’t suffer quite as much as the numbers suggest. “There was a lot of fleet, as an industry, in the number,” he said, adding that this is the time when rental fleets normally bring in inventory for the busy season. “This year, there’s still some, but it’s very, very limited.” Kia had zero fleet sales in the month, and El-Achhab told us that only one or two OEMs saw any fleet sales in the month. He estimated that consumer retail sales were down just over 70 percent nationwide with fleet sales down more than 80 percent. “Not earth-shattering differences, but we watch market share very closely… (Kia is) still seeing gains (in their percentage of) the retail market share.”
Volvo reported only its year to date sales, adding that at 1,652 units, they had seen “a seven percent increase month over month,” and that “sales performance for April 2020 was affected by the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.” Looking at the company’s March sales announcement of 1,396 vehicles that suggests the brand had 256 sales for April alone. With April of last year the company’s best month in 12 years at 1,023 cars sold, that’s a decrease of around 75 percent, in-line with industry trends.
It’s a sharp decline industry-wide in Canada, especially compared with sales south of the border where sales dropped around 50 percent. It’s likely of little comfort, but our industry fared better than that of the UK, where total sales were down 97.3 percent to just 4,321 vehicles in the entire country. That’s the lowest they’ve been there since the war. In India, strict lockdowns meant that no new vehicles were sold at all, to nearly half a billion people, and only a small handful were exported from the country’s factories to other markets.
As Provinces begin to re-open, expect sales to begin to pick up. And if you’re in a position to buy now, some of the best cash and finance offers we’ve seen in years are available to help get the wheels rolling.