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Comeback kids and disappoinments for the auto industry - Metro US

Comeback kids and disappoinments for the auto industry

The end of June marks the halfway point of the 2010 Canadian vehicle sales year. A perfect time, then, to do some trendspotting and “top-tenning.”

First a quick recap of the situation six months ago at the close of 2009.

Canadian vehicle sales took a big swoon in 2009 — the lowest annual total since 1998 — while the U.S. total was the lowest since 1982.

GM and Chrysler led the downward parade, with Chrysler actually slipping to fourth overall, behind Toyota.

But while that bad news was happening, many European brands, as well as the Korean brands, actually enjoyed sales growth.

Fast-forward six months to today, and those European and Korean brands are still hard at it, with several registering record sales for the month of June. VW Canada, for example, had its best half-year total in its history, and Hyundai placed two vehicles in the Top Ten for sales in 2010, year to date.

So far, the major change over 2009 is that overall market is up by 16 per cent, and that all three players from Detroit are feeling happy, while Honda and Toyota are feeling less happy.

Ford is actually outpacing GM right now, and is currently the top-selling automaker in Canada. This marks the first time in more than 50 years that Ford has led the market for two consecutive quarters.

GM and Chrysler are also doing great in 2010, but this better performance is best described as a return to normalcy, rather than an outright sales party.

Here are some other mid-year highlights and lowlights

• Saab has yet to sell a car in 2010.

• Truck sales grew by 27 per cent, while car sales dropped by three per cent. Fullsize pickups continue to reign as top sellers. For everything that’s happening, we still love our pickups.

• June was the second month in row, where the Detroit troika outperformed their import rivals.

• Death of the minivan has been postponed — Canadians bought lots of them, particularly the Dodge Caravan, the second bestselling vehicle in the country.

• Jaguar and Land Rover are doing well — up 27 per cent — for their new owners.

• Canadians like their Mercedes-Benz vehicles with diesel and all-wheel drive. Where available, the diesel “take rate” was 77.9 per cent, while the 4Matic units accounted for 74.1 per cent of overall units.

• Mazda3 is gaining on Civic for title of bestselling passenger car in Canada.

Michael Goetz has been writing about cars and editing automotive publications for over 20 years. He lives in Toronto with his family and a neglected 1967 Jaguar E-type.

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