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Canada March 2020: Market skids -48%, Q1 down -20.8%, GMC up 5%, full-size pickups monopolise Top 4

The GMC Sierra (+4.5%) is up to third place in Canada in Q1. Picture caranddriver.com

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, by mid-March all of Canada’s provinces and territories had declared states of emergency with various degrees of movement restrictions, and travellers from all countries including the U.S. were banned on March 18. Several provinces and municipalities also have stay-at-home orders in effect at the time of writing, where dealer service operations are considered essential but sales mostly aren’t. Confirmed cases still doubled in the first week of April from 8.591 to 17.883, making Canada the 13th most affected country in the world and seemingly indicating the resulting economic slump could last longer than expected. Because these measures were put into effect roughly one week earlier than the U.S., the Canadian new car market is significantly more impacted in March than in the U.S. with local consultancy Desrosiers estimating sales down -48% to just 95.800 sales vs. 184.150 in March 2019. Q1 official volumes are down -20.8% to 331.718 and Scotiabank warned that “April sales declines could conceivably bottom out at around -80% year-on-year as the virus continues to escalate over the month.”

As we’ll see further down, light trucks (-14.7%) weather the storm much better than passenger cars (-35.3%), adding up to 79.2% share vs. 74.3% over Q1 2019 while cars drop to 20.8% vs. 25.7%. Rare March official figures show the Nissan Group down -67.8% with Nissan down -66.4% and Infiniti down -81.1% while Hyundai sinks -44% and Kia is down -43%. Q1 2020 results show the Top 5 automotive groups contain their loss to below the market rate: Ford Motor (-13.8%) is on top ahead of General Motors (-12.8%), FCA (-18.9%) whose fleet sales drop -28%, Toyota Motor (-18%) and Hyundai-Kia (-15.1%). But Honda Motor (-31.4%) is knocked out the Top 5 and Nissan/Mitsubishi (-35.3%), the BMW Group (-30.3%), Mercedes (-22.5%) and the VW Group (-22.3%) all skid out of control. On April 1, FCA began offering no payments for 120 days on all 2019 and 2020 models, across all brands.

The Ram Pickup edges up 0.3% in a market down -20.8%.

Brand-wise, the Top 5 is unchanged on FY2019 but the year-on-year evolutions vary significantly. Ford (-13.6%), Hyundai (-15%) and Toyota (-18.6%) manage to somewhat contain their decline just as Honda (-31.2%) freefalls and Chevrolet (-20.8%) matches the market. GMC (+5%) is the only gainer in the Top 10 and Top 30 while Ram (-0.7%) manage a flat result which is outstanding in the current context. Nissan (-36.4%) is hit hard. Beyond the Top 10, Buick (-10.8%), Land Rover (-11.1%), Subaru (-12.7%) and Lexus (-13.1%) slim down their losses while among tiny players Rolls Royce (+10.5%), Bentley (+10%), McLaren (+10%) and Lamborghini (+4.1%) score upticks.

The Ford Explorer (+47%) scores the largest gain in the Top 45. Picture caranddriver.com

Over in the models ranking, similarly to the U.S. the Ford F-Series (-5.3%) moves the opposite way as its main competitors the Ram Pickup (+0.3%), GMC Sierra (+4.5%) and Chevrolet Silverado (+3.1%) all braving the adverse condition with exceptional positive Q1 results. This in turns means the Top 4 best-selling models in Canada so far in 2020 are all full-size pickup trucks. The Toyota RAV4 (-12.7%) is knocked down two spots compared to the FY2019 ranking to #5, but it significantly widens the gap with its SUV competitors as the Honda CR-V (-29.5%) and Nissan Rogue (-33.1%) both take a beating. In fact, the Ford Explorer (+47%) and Dodge Grand Caravan (+2.5%) are the only additional gainers in the Top 20. The Ford Ranger (+125.6%), Subaru Crosstrek (+9.9%), Toyota Highlander (+5%), Tacoma (+2.5%) and Nissan Kicks (+0.3%) join them in the Top 50. The Mazda CX-30 (#57) is the #1 newcomer above the Hyundai Venue (#61) and Palisade (#76) as we welcome the Buick Encore GX (#181), Kia Seltos (#188), Cadillac CT5 (#202) and Porsche Taycan (#236) in the Canadian charts.

Selected March data will be uploaded to this article when made available to us.

Previous month: Canada February 2020: Only 13 brands report in stable market, Toyota Motor (+13.9%), Mitsubishi (+15%), Subaru (+14.1%) stand out

One year ago: Canada March 2019: Honda (+12%), Hyundai (+8.8%), Ford (+7.2%) defy 13th consecutive market drop

Full Q1 2020 Top 15 groups, Top 40 brands and Top 290 All-models below.

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