TORONTO - Vehicle sales in Canada were down only one per cent in October compared to a year earlier, the smallest decline in more than a year amid growing consumer confidence.

Overall, 121,500 vehicles were sold in Canada in October, according to data compiled by DesRosiers Automotive Consultants. This compared to 122,711 a year earlier.

"The overall industry is seeing monthly sales return to levels equivalent to what they were in 2008, despite the fact that year-to-date sales for the industry remain down 13.2 per cent," said David Adams, president of the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers of Canada.

"There are significant incentives from manufacturers in a highly competitive marketplace right now, providing great purchasing opportunities for consumers."

Although several of the major brands are still posting year-over-year declines, this was offset by the large gains of other manufacturers, including Hyundai, Ford and Toyota.

General Motors clung to its top spot with 17.5 per cent of market share, although this was down from 21.8 per cent at the same point last year.

GM Canada's sales were down 33.1 per cent to 18,818.

Meanwhile, Ford came in a strong second, with sales up 20.3 per cent to 18,187. This marks the company's fifth consecutive month of sales gains and 12th consecutive month of market share growth, boosted by the fact that Ford was the only North American automaker to survive the downturn without government assistance.

"We are making steady progress and remain fully focused on our plan to build a strong and sustainable Ford," stated Ford Canada president and CEO David Mondragon.

"Consumers are seeing the signs of recovery and are gaining confidence in the quality, fuel efficiency, safety and smart technology incorporated in our new product lineup. In fact, 90 per cent of our sales come from our new models" including the Taurus and the Fusion, he added.

Toyota was in third place in terms of market share, with sales up 19.4 per cent to 17,354. This set a record for the month of October and followed months of year-over-year sales declines.

Toyota's Lexus luxury brand sold 1,459 vehicles, up 11.9 per cent from October 2008.

In fourth place was Chrysler, down 9.1 per cent to 14,215 vehicles. Honda was in fifth place, down 10.4 per cent to 9,224, while Honda's Acura division sold 2,079 units, up 78.9 per cent.

Meanwhile, South Korean automaker Hyundai came in sixth place, with sales up a remarkable 43 per cent to 8,415.

October was Hyundai's 10th straight month of double-digit sales increases and its ninth straight record-breaking month.

"We said our strong sales results weren't just a fad, and ten consecutive months of significant sales increases certainly prove that," stated Hyundai Canada president and CEO Steve Kelleher.

Meanwhile, Nissan reported sales of 5,912, down 2.5 per cent year over year. Its Infiniti luxury brand sold 743 vehicles, down 3.5 per cent.

Among other luxury brands, Mercedes-Benz reported Canadian sales of 2,199, up 27.8 per cent, while BMW's sales gained 5.5 per cent to 2,310. This compared to an impressive 50.1 per cent gain in September.

Among other brands, Volkswagen sold 3,545 vehicles in September, down 3.2 per cent, while Audi's sales were up 2.3 per cent to 1,100.

Kia sold 3,603 vehicles, up 23.2 per cent, while Mazda sales were down 8.1 per cent to 5,612, Mitsubishi sales were up 8.5 per cent to 1,452 and Subaru sold 2,486 vehicles, up 39.3 per cent.