Vehicle purchases in Canada advanced in February 2015, climbing three per cent above a year earlier in February – but sales softened to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.75 million units in that month, down from 1.80 million in January and a full-year total of 1.85 million in 2014, according to new figures from Scotiabank.
Light trucks led the way in Canada, Scotiabank said in its most recent global auto report, climbing five per cent above a year earlier and setting a record for the month of February. In particular, sales of pickup trucks advanced 13 per cent year-over-year, led by a 44 per cent surge at General Motors. “However, the gain was broadbased with five manufacturers posting double-digit year-over-year increases in both truck sales and overall volumes,” said Carlos Gomes, Scotiabank’s senior economist and auto industry specialist.
New vehicle sales in the United States rose five per cent above a year earlier in February, but were much weaker than expected, undercut by what Gomes called “historic cold temperatures in parts of the United States and inventory shortages for some key models”. The Scotiabank report estimated that purchases declined to a seasonally adjusted 16.2 million units, the lowest level since last April and well below the six-month trend of 16.8 million units. “However, we view last month’s weak performance as temporary, and still expect full-year 2015 sales to climb to 17 million units,” Gomes said.
The U.S. labour market — the key driver of vehicle sales — continues to strengthen and is now advancing 2.3 per cent year-over-year, Gomes added, the fastest pace since mid-2000. “Consumer confidence also remains elevated and interest rates and fuel prices remain low, and will support further sales gains in coming months,” Gomes said.