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Auto Sales Continue to Bounce Back from COVID-19

Auto Sales Continue to Bounce Back from COVID-19

October 22, 2020

The year 2020 has been one that no one could have anticipated and continues to be a challenge for many industries. The auto industry certainly does not come out of this scratch free. As some parts of Canada went into lockdown, many industries saw massive declines in business, including a steep decline in new car sales – though we were still better off than many other industries.

Over the past few months, we have continued to see an incline in the economy, from the steep initial decline, which the Bank of Canada has termed a “v-shaped recovery”, though we are not yet operating at 100%. We are still slightly down in sales from where we were last year, but there continues to be a silver lining – something that we all need to cling to during these challenging times we’re all facing.

According to a recent study by Desrosiers Automotive Consultants, a total of 500,737 units were sold in Q3 in Canada – marking a 3.9% dip from the same quarter last year. What would once have been alarming, this seems fairly positive given the steep decline we saw in Q2. This is the first sign of recovery we have seen since the pandemic hit, so we really have something to be thankful for.

Light truck sales did incredibly well this quarter, seeing an overall 1.8% increase. A result that is unsurprising, but a good coup for the sector. Among light duty trucks, the Ford F-Series once again proved that it is a fan favourite with a 14.9% increase since last year and the continued sales leader in the category. The Toyota RAV4 also saw a sales increase of 19.8%, which helped the model to secure third place. The stand-out performer in this category was the Hyundai Kona, seeing an increase of 56.3%, giving it the seventh spot in this quarter.

As I mentioned, the growth of this quarter was not evenly distributed across all categories. Passenger vehicles were not able to keep up with light trucks, but there were still a few clear winners in the category. The Kia Forte, for example, claimed an 8.6% sales increase in the third quarter, placing it in fourth position for the quarter. And with an impressive increase of 39.2%, comes the Toyota Camry, which claimed sixth position overall. Finally, the Nissan Sentra grew 44.4% and helped the model make a rare appearance in the top ten selling passenger cars.

While these sales are not perfect and certainly not where I would have wanted to see them a year ago, a lot has changed this year and so must our perspective. With such a large dip in sales because of the restrictions of COVID-19 and impact on buying patterns earlier this year, we are finally on the road to recovery. I hope to see this continue through the year and I’m optimistic about the future of our industry.

As we head into the winter months, I also wanted to remind you to make sure to get your winter tires on. Yes, a fine is no fun, but an accident and injuries from not having winter tires would be much worse! Stay safe, calm, and most of all, be kind.

Blair Qualey is President and CEO of the New Car Dealers Association of BC. You can email him at bqualey@newcardealers.ca

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