Passenger vehicle sales were stronger than expected last month, advancing three percent year over year to an annualized 1.61 million units — only slightly below October’s strong performance. Imported brands led the way, according to the numbers from Scotia Capital, posting a double-digit gain, as sales at Japanese automakers jumped 10 percent year over year and set a record for the month of November.
In particular, sales at Toyota soared 20 percent above a year earlier, helping Japanese automakers garner a 36 percent share of the Canadian market — the highest level since October 2010. Honda also reported its first year-over-year gain since March, an indication that the inventory shortfall arising from the Japanese earthquake is finally being overcome.
Purchases continued to strengthen in the U.S., climbing to an annualized 13.7 million units in November, the best performance of the year and the highest level since the ‘cash-for-clunkers’ program in mid-2009, says the Scotia Capital report. The improvement reflects enhanced incentives, as well as strengthening replacement demand. In particular, retail volumes at Ford and General Motors jumped 17.5% above a year earlier, as households have finally started to replace their aging vehicles. The average age of the U.S. vehicle fleet has climbed to a record 10.6 years, as new vehicle sales have been below the scrappage levels since 2008.
Strengthening sales prompted Ford to boost its fourth-quarter North American production schedule two percent above its previous target, and will likely lead to higher assemblies throughout the industry in the opening months of 2012.