Honda’s Civic leads a declining Canadian passenger car market
#25: Honda Fit
– October 2015 YTD: down 10.7% to 8,108 – The Fit was a force for subcompact good late in its first-generation. Honda Canada sold nearly 15,000 Fits in 2008. But after relaunching in 2014 in third-gen form for model year 2015, sales climbed to a six-year high. In calendar year 2015, however, Fit volume has fallen by nearly 1,000 units as supply dwindles, as Honda car buyers continue to veer toward the Civic, and as the HR-V crossover steals limelight.
#24: Nissan Versa
– October 2015 YTD: down 31.8% to 8,111 – Having lost half its lineup – the Versa sedan is no longer part of Nissan’s Canadian lineup – the Versa Note hatchback has also lost much of its sway because of the Micra’s addition to the lineup. Want an inexpensive Nissan subcompact? The Versa’s rear legroom and extra refinement loses out to the Micra’s affordability.
#23: Chevrolet Malibu
– October 2015 YTD: up 27.4% to 8,266 – GM Canada didn’t achieve a 27 percent uptick in Malibu sales this year because of renewed interest in the midsize category, nor because of renewed interest in the short-lived eighth-generation Malibu. There will be an all-new, very attractive Malibu in dealers soon. Massive discounts of the current car have spurred sales to a four-year high, but Malibu volume is still down 28 percent compared with 2010.
#22: Subaru Outback
– October 2015 YTD: up 21.8% to 8,357 – Perhaps no new vehicle is more deserving of the “crossover” definition than the Outback. Is it an SUV? It certainly offers plentiful ground clearance, SUV-like styling cues, and standard all-wheel-drive. But it’s also very much an elevated version of a Subaru Legacy wagon, a car no longer offered in North America (and now sold as the Levorg in Japan.) One way or another, the Outback has certainly established its corner of the market, where buyers want the best of both worlds.
#21: Mercedes-Benz C-Class
– October 2015 YTD: up 53.4% to 8,650 – The C-Class is the only premium brand car in this group of Canada’s 25 best-selling cars. Newly launched in fourth-generation form last year, the C-Class has opened up a 686-unit lead over the next-best-selling premium brand car, the BMW 3-Series, with two months remaining in 2015. The 3-Series ranks 26th overall.
#20: Kia Rio
– October 2015 YTD: down 33.8% to 8,759 – Attractive and inexpensive, the Rio is still overshadowed by its corporate twin, the Hyundai Accent. Subcompact declines are par for the course in 2015, but the Rio’s is especially harsh. At this time last year, the Rio was Kia’s best-selling model in Canada, accounting for 21 percent of the brand’s sales. This year, three Kias sell more often than the Rio, which generates 15 percent of all Kia Canada volume.
#19: Chrysler 200
– October 2015 YTD: up 0.5% to 9,714 – Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is the biggest seller of new vehicles in Canada through the first ten months of 2015. FCA reported 250,166 sales through the end of October. Little more than one out of every ten FCA sales comes from the automaker’s car division. Of those 27,721 sales, 35 percent are Chrysler 200s. But combined sales of the 200 and its joint predecessor, the Dodge Avenger, are down four percent in 2015.
#18: Subaru Impreza
– October 2015 YTD: up 13.7% to 9,962 – As Subaru continues its steady march from oddball automaker to mainstream player, the Impreza plays a vital role. One-quarter of all Subarus sold in Canada so far this year were Imprezas and Impreza-based WRXs and STIs. Furthermore, the XV Crosstrek – essentially an Impreza hatch in SUV clothes – contributed another 7,108 year-to-date sales.
#17: Nissan Micra
– October 2015 YTD: up 69.6% to 10,285 – The Nissan Micra wasn’t the originator of the category – Mitsubishi’s Mirage was here first. Indeed, both nameplates existed in the distant past. But as true subcompacts, the Micra and Mirage connected with a desire in a small corner of the car-buying public for straightforward transportation. The Micra, obviously, has done a better job of making the connection. 18,100 Micras have been sold in Canada in the last 19 months; 7,677 Mirages have been sold in the last 26 months.
#16: Kia Forte
– October 2015 YTD: down 0.7% to 10,325 – Traditional compact cars claim ten of the top twelve positions on this list of Canada’s best-selling cars. Though the Forte appears well down the list, it’s still a relatively common car by the standards of most vehicles available today. The Forte’s corporate sibling is four times more popular, but in Hyundai showrooms, the Elantra must not do battle with a Soul equivalent. At Kia, the Soul has become the more attractive proposition to many new car buyers.
#15: Kia Soul
– October 2015 YTD: up 34.5% to 11,715 – 2015 is only ten months old, but the Kia Soul has already generated more Canadian sales in five-sixths of 2015 than in any previous full calendar year. Soul sales had previously peaked at 11,651 units in its second full year, 2011. Kia Canada may sell 14,000 Souls in 2015.
#14: Honda Accord
– October 2015 YTD: down 18.4% to 12,124 – With Accord sales down 18 percent, not to mention the declines reported by two other Hondas on this list, how has the brand managed to record a four percent year-over-year sales gain through 2015’s first ten months? Consider Honda’s trio of utilities, which have collectively added 12,781 sales so far this year. On its own, the CR-V sells more than two and a half times more often than the Accord.
#13: Hyundai Sonata
– October 2015 YTD: up 5.4% to 12,265 – While U.S. sales of the Sonata are falling in this first full year of the seventh-generation Sonata’s reign, Canadian sales are improving modestly even as the car market declines. The Sonata ranks third in Canada’s midsize category in 2015, up from a distant fourth at this time last year.
#12: Nissan Sentra
– October 2015 YTD: up 0.5% to 13,032 – The Sentra is Nissan’s best-selling car, but it is by no means the brand’s top-selling product. Combined, the Sentra, Versa, and Altima don’t sell quite as often as the Nissan Rogue, sales of which jumped 26 percent in the first ten months of 2015. Nissan is delivering an early re-flash of the Sentra for the 2016 model year, a premature revamp aimed at maintaining the compact’s momentum. Only three years ago, the Sentra was Canada’s 24th-best-selling car.
#11: Ford Fusion
– October 2015 YTD: down 12.2% to 13,734 – The Fusion was Canada’s best-selling midsize car in 2009, 2010, and 2011, grabbed its title back in 2013 after a one-year hiatus thanks to record sales, and then suffered a sharp decline in 2014 while still ending the year as the best seller in its category. 2015 is different, however, as Fusion volume continues to decrease and its top rival, the Toyota Camry, surges forward.
#10: Toyota Camry
– October 2015 YTD: up 14.7% to 15,179 – Not since 2012 has the Camry ended a calendar year as Canada’s best-selling midsize car. Though the perennial overall leader south of the border, the Camry participates in a much smaller midsize category in this country. Many of its rivals are declining, from the Ford Fusion and Honda Accord to the Nissan Altima and Mazda 6. The Camry is bucking the trend and is thus on track for sales to potentially rise to a seven-year high.
#9: Volkswagen Golf
– October 2015 YTD: up 80.4% to 17,329 – Sales of the Golf nameplate in 2013 and 2014 were at their lowest point in seven years because the Mk6 car had long since expired. But the new car was slow in arriving. In comparison with last year, Golf sales have ballooned in 2015, and a diesel emissions scandal didn’t produce a contraction in October, either. Golf volume was up six percent last month to 1,630 units; 38 percent higher than the average October Golf volume from the previous five years.
#8: Hyundai Accent
– October 2015 YTD: down 15.7% to 17,339 – Canada’s most popular subcompact car is afflicted by the same disease besetting nearly every subcompact on sale in Canada: declining sales. Year-over-year, Accent volume has fallen by 3,221 sales. Competitors from Chevrolet, Ford, Honda, Kia, Mazda, Nissan, and Toyota are all in reverse, as well.
#7: Ford Focus
– October 2015 YTD: down 5.9% to 18,424 – In a Ford car division that’s seen its sales fall by more than one-tenth in 2015’s first ten months, the Focus’s six percent drop doesn’t seem so harsh. Unfortunately, Canadian sales of the C-Max, Fiesta, and Fusion are all falling even more sharply than the Focus. It is highly unlikely that the addition of a high-performance, high-priced Focus RS will have any measurable impact on total Focus sales in 2016.
#6: Volkswagen Jetta
– October 2015 YTD: down 10.2% to 24,651 – Long before Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal erupted at the end of September, sales of the Jetta were declining in Canada. This makes sense. The Jetta is an older model in a Volkswagen small car lineup that has re-emphasized the new Golf. Four out of every ten Volkswagens sold in Canada this year are still Jettas, nevertheless.
#5: Chevrolet Cruze
– October 2015 YTD: down 6.5% to 27,139 – Like a number of its better-selling rivals, the Chevrolet Cruze will be a significantly revised car next year. For now, Cruze sales are declining, just as sales of those key rivals are. Only 27 percent of GM Canada’s volume is car-derived. 45 percent of the cars sold by GM are Cruzes.
#4: Mazda 3
– October 2015 YTD: down 16.0% to 30,414 – Perceived by many in the industry to be the best small car available, Mazda’s 3 has struggled to match 2014’s sales pace this year. In fact, the 3 will likely fall 9,000 sales short of its average annual total from the last decade. The good news? Mazda is picking up much of the slack with the CX-3 and CX-5 crossovers. The bad news? Brand-wide Mazda sales are down two percent in 2015.
#3: Hyundai Elantra
– October 2015 YTD: down 4.6% to 41,957 – In four consecutive years, the Hyundai Elantra was Canada’s second-best-selling car. Elantra sales in 2015, however, have fallen more rapidly than the top-ranked Civic’s volume and the second-ranked Corolla’s sales. Elantra sales in 2015 are expected to fall to a four-year low as Hyundai readies the current car’s replacement.
#2: Toyota Corolla
– October 2015 YTD: down 2.1% to 42,208 – The Corolla was Canada’s third-best-selling car in 2012, 2013, and 2014, but the Corolla is in a tight race for the number two spot in 2015. Only 251 sales separate the Corolla and the third-ranked Hyundai Elantra. The Corolla was Canada’s best-selling car in February of this year but has trailed the Civic ever since.
#1: Honda Civic
– October 2015 YTD: down 3.4% to 55,881 – Without a doubt, 2015 will be the 18th consecutive year of passenger car leadership for the Honda Civic. Though sales are down, the Civic hasn’t declined as severely as the overall passenger car market. Moreover, it’s not surprising to see sales of a soon-to-be-replaced model decrease at the end of its tenure. Honda will begin selling an all-new Civic for the 2016 model year shortly, and we will be very surprised if it doesn’t maintain top dog status.
Canadian car sales have fallen by more than five per cent through the first 10 months of 2015, a year-over-year decline of more than 36,000 sales compared with the same period in 2014.
Traditional passenger cars accounted for 42 per cent of the Canadian auto industry’s volume in the first 10 months of 2014, but that figure is down to 38 per cent in 2015 – and just 36 per cent in October – as Canada’s eight most popular cars have all posted declines.
There are still numerous popular cars though, and many are selling more often this year than last.
And, as usual, the Honda Civic is leading the way.