By Susan Taylor
TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian car and light truck sales rose 2.2 percent in January over last year to an all-time record for the month, DesRosiers Automotive Consultants said on Wednesday, as the big Detroit Three automakers posted gains that contrasted with U.S. declines.
Total sales in Canada climbed to 110,945 light vehicles in January, up from 108,572 in the same month last year, DesRosiers said, beating the previous record-setting January sales of 110,266 vehicles in 2002.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV's Canadian arm topped the industry in January, with 16.6 percent of the market, and Ford Motor Co's Canadian unit ran second, with a 15.5 percent market share, according to DesRosiers, which compiles industry market research and is considered one of Canada's leading auto analysts.
"It is too early to comment with certainty on how the market will perform this year, as January is rarely a reliable indicator, but this is at least a positive start," said Dennis DesRosiers, president of the consultancy.
FCA Canada said sales increased 2.0 percent in January, over the same month last year, to 18,443 vehicles. Higher-profit retail sales to individual consumers, which U.S. automakers are pushing, were 75 percent of sales, it said. Bulk fleet sales were 25 percent of its overall sales.
Ford Motor Co of Canada said sales increased 3.5 percent to 17,232 vehicles. Truck sales rose 6.1 percent to 15,371 vehicles, offsetting a 13.9 drop in car sales to 1,861 vehicles.
General Motors Co said its Chevrolet, GMC and Cadillac dealers in Canada sold 14,605 vehicles in January, up 1.5 percent from the same period last year. Sales of Chevrolet vehicles gained 4 percent, Buick models 40 percent and GM utility vehicles 14 percent, while Cadillac sales dropped 19 percent, it said.
Honda Canada Inc reported a 2.0 percent increase in January sales, to 10,173 vehicles, as Honda sales climbed 2.0 percent to 9,131 vehicles to offset a 2 percent drop in Acura sales, to 1,042 vehicles.
Monthly U.S. vehicle sales declined from strong year-ago levels as automakers scaled back bulk sales to focus on retail sales, but the numbers were still better than analysts expected.
January sales fell 1.8 percent to 1.14 million vehicles, or a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 17.61 million vehicles, down from 17.9 million vehicles a year earlier, according to Autodata. The annualized rate was roughly in line with a forecast of 17.55 million in a poll by Thomson Reuters.
Industry executives are optimistic 2017 U.S. sales could reach another record, lifted by policies expected from President Trump.
(Reporting by Susan Taylor; Editing by Alan Crosby and Andrew Hay)