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This time last year, things were looking bleak for the auto industry as the impact of the pandemic was really starting to sink in. Canadian sales of new light duty vehicles fell to just 45,833 units during April 2020 – the lowest sales number in that month since 1951.

But the auto industry is resilient, and the Canadian market bounced back faster than many anticipated. April sales are up 254% compared to the same month in 2020, according to a recent report from DeRosiers Automotive Consultants. However, while this reflects a very positive bounce-back, it’s important to recognize that these sales results are actually less than those recorded in April 2019.

This is promising news for our industry and gives me hope for a return to some level of normal. Typically, May is the biggest sales month of the year, so we’ll want to keep a close eye on those numbers in the hope that this positive trend continues.

Another indicator of the market making a rebound is the level of production taking place among major automakers, and that is also showing some positive signs.

We experienced a 25.1% increase in North American light vehicle production during the month of April, compared to April 2020 – while passenger car production experienced a decrease of 12.1%.

Canada was a bit further behind the North American total, with an overall 10.4% increase recorded for March 2021 compared to March 2020 for light vehicles. And interestingly, passenger car production actually increased 18.6% during the same time period.

In Canada, Toyota recorded a very large production increase in March with production rising 74.6% from the same time last year. Lexus RX production jumped 71.6% and Toyota RAV4 production increased 75.4%.

Ford followed with a larger production increase of 29.9% for March 2021. Ford Edge production increased 29.4%, Lincoln Nautilus production jumped 31.9%, and the Ford supercar – GT saw a production increase of 50%.

While these results are encouraging, production will undoubtedly be influenced by an ongoing computer chip shortage. This is an issue that manufacturers are working to address but it will present challenges, at least for the short term.

In spite of challenges, there is no doubt we are headed in the right direction in Canada.
From the panic we were all feeling around this time last year, I am happy to share the positive news in terms of sales and production numbers.

I look forward to the continued increase and sharing May numbers when they become available.

Until then, stay safe.

Blair Qualey is President and CEO of the New Car Dealers Association of BC. You can email him at [email protected]