Passenger vehicle sales way up in March: Scotiabank
Passenger vehicle sales in Canada soared in March, jumping 9% above a year earlier and setting new all-time highs, according to Scotiabank’s latest Auto News Flash.
“We estimate that purchases surpassed an annualized 2.0 million units in March, exceeding the previous peak set last September,” the report said. “Last month’s torrid pace lifted first-quarter sales 2.5% from the final months of 2015, suggesting that a key segment of household spending has rebounded strongly in the opening months of 2016. Light trucks continue to lead the way, rocketing to an annualized 1.31 million units in March, up from a full-year total of 1.18 million units last year.”
Turning to the U.S., the Auto News Flash noted that vehicle sales continued to climb above a year ago, but the advance was smaller-than-expected last month, held back by light dealer traffic during the Easter weekend. “We estimate that sales eased to an annualized 16.5 million units in March, well below our expectations of 17.3 million,” Scotiabank said. “Car sales accounted for all of the softness, with volumes for imported brands slumping 14% below a year ago. In contrast, light truck volumes continued to power ahead.”
Despite last month’s weaker-than-expected performance, the report said, industry fundamentals “remain solid”, driven by strong employment gains, rising wages and low interest rates. “Highlighting the positive industry backdrop, automakers boosted their second-quarter North American production schedules by 3%, an additional 247,000 units,” the Auto News Flash said. “Light trucks account for more than 70% of the increase in assemblies, reflecting the surge in popularity of these models.”