Traditional passenger cars now make up less than a third of the Canadian auto market, but which auto brands create the largest portion of their sales with cars?
#24: Buick | 7.5%
How much longer will Buick exist as an automaker that builds cars? To be fair, cars will continue to be a major part of Buick’s lineup, at least in China, where Buick is big business. But in North America, and in Canada specifically, Buick now produces only a handful of sales with cars. The disappearance of Buick cars was sped up by the discontinuation of the Verano, which was Canada’s top-selling Buick before it was put out to pasture. Buick car sales are down 79 percent this year, dragging the brand down 18 percent despite an 8 percent uptick in crossover sales.
#23: Ford | 11.6%
Upon realizing just how few cars Ford actually sells, observers will be quicker to understand why the brand’s North American division is heading into a future – and not a distant future – with a car lineup that consists solely of the Mustang. Not only does Ford sell few cars, it does so at cut-rate prices. In April, the Mustang, which is admittedly more popular than it has been in more than a decade, was Ford’s most popular car despite operating far outside the mainstream in which the Focus and Fusion should theoretically compete.
#22: Dodge | 13.4%
Avenger? Dead. Dart? Killed. Viper? Gone. Dodge relies almost completely on the aging Grand Caravan for Canadian volume, as the brand’s car sales are down 18 percent to only 2,932 units so far this year.
#21: Lincoln | 17.3%
At Ford’s upmarket Lincoln outlet, the brand’s most recent car introduction hasn’t produced any progress for Lincoln’s car division. Lincoln sold 2,070 SUVs/crossovers in the first half of 2018, but only 432 cars. That car total represents a 16-percent decline, caused in part by the 19-percent drop in sales of the still-fresh Continental.
#20: Volvo | 19.1%
It took a long time, but Volvo finally replaced the first-generation XC90 with a new XC90 in 2016. Then along came a long-awaited XC60 replacement earlier this year. Now there’s a new XC40. That third Volvo utility vehicle, the XC40, is Volvo’s third-ranked utility, yet it outsold the entire Volvo car division in April. Volvo’s struggling car fleet is down 25 percent so far this year.
#19: Mitsubishi | 21.5%
Following a record Canadian sales performance in 2017, Mitsubishi sales are up 17 percent so far in 2018. It’s not because of the brand’s cars, sales of which are down 34 percent, collecting only one in five Mitsubishi sales. With no Galant and no Eclipse – and soon, no Lancer – Mitsubishi’s car burden will fall on the small shoulders of the Mirage city car.
#18: Lexus | 22.7%
With only a handful of sales coming from the GS, LC, LS, and RC, Lexus produces the lion’s share of its car sales with the IS and another chunk from the ES. But these cars are comparatively nonexistent in Lexus’s Canadian sales results. Only 1,579 Lexus cars have been sold in Canada so far this year. Lexus has already sold 2,315 copies of the NX plus another 2,601 RXs.
#17: Subaru | 28.7%
To be fair, Subaru’s “light trucks” are about as closely related to the brand’s cars as crossovers can be. The Subaru Crosstrek and Outback are even visually quite similar to the Impreza and Legacy on which they’re based. Yet the Crosstrek, Outback, and Forester are able to tap into a large market, while Subaru’s cars are fighting for a small slice of a shrinking pie. Subaru’s cars are down 17 percent to 4,880 units so far this year.
#16: Nissan | 29.4%
Against the backdrop of thriving utility vehicle sales – crafted by the strong Qashqai, Murano, and Rogue, in particular – Nissan’s car volume is dropping off. In fact, if you discount the all-electric Leaf, every Nissan car is slowing down in early 2018. The 370Z, Altima, GT-R, Maxima, Micra, Sentra, and Versa are down 12 percent, 17 percent, 55 percent, 45 percent, 20 percent, 21 percent, and 8 percent, respectively, compared with the first four months of 2017.
#15: Cadillac | 29.8%
Cadillac reported a Canadian sales record in 2017, but in 2018 the brand is struggling because its SUV sales are slowing down, and its car sales are tanking. Cadillac has recently decided that the car sales aren’t sustainable amidst the current downturn, and the ATS sedan – Cadillac’s top-selling car – will be discontinued after the 2018 model year. The ATS accounts for 63 percent of Canada’s Cadillac car sales, but only 19 percent of Cadillac’s overall Canadian volume.
#14: Acura | 32.7%
Acura’s business is produced largely by two utility vehicles: the MDX and RDX utility vehicles. Acura’s car business, which accounts for less than one-third of Acura’s Canadian volume, is fuelled primarily by the TLX sedan, sales of which are up 18 percent this year. Of the 1,934 cars sold by Acura so far this year, 1,341 were TLXs; another 593 were ILXs, NSXs, and RLXs.
#13: Chevrolet | 34.6%
Bucking Canada’s anti-car trend, General Motors’ biggest brand has seen its car volume rise 1 percent this year thanks to gains from the Impala, Spark, Bolt, and Volt. The top-ranked Cruze is essentially flat. The overwhelming majority of Chevrolets sold are still trucks and SUVs, but GM can be happy that its small cars and green cars are selling better this year than last.
#12: Chrysler | 35.2%
With no small car, no midsize car, and no sporting car, the only Chrysler car is the full-size 300 sedan. (The only other Chrysler is the Pacifica minivan.) 300 sales are up 5 percent this year, but with the disappearance of the 200, Chrysler’s car volume is down by nearly two-thirds, year-over-year.
#11: Toyota | 37.8%
Gone are the days when the Corolla and Camry were Toyota’s leaders. The Toyota RAV4 is now the brand’s best seller, outperforming the Corolla by an 11-percent margin; outselling the Camry by nearly 4-to-1. Toyota sold 5,243 vans, 8,064 pickups, and 25,076 SUVs/crossovers in the first one-third of 2018. Toyota also sold 23,322 cars.
#10: Porsche | 38.0%
How quickly we forget that prior to the launch of the Boxster in the late 90s, Porsche built one model: the 911. Now Porsche is more of an SUV builder than a sports car marker, yet there are a wide variety of Porsche cars, broad product ranges for the 911, Boxster, Cayman, and Panamera. Porsche is on track to set another 911 sales record in Canada in 2018, and the brand’s car volume has almost doubled so far this year.
#9: Infiniti | 38.7%
Although Infiniti produces the bulk of its sales with utility vehicles, the trendlines have shifted in early 2018. At this time a year ago, prior to a big Q50 sales increase, cars accounted for only 30 percent of Infiniti sales, but the brand’s utility vehicles took an 18-percent hit in 2018’s first four months while the brand’s cars are up 23 percent, year-to-date.
#8: Mercedes-Benz | 39.8%
Excluding Mercedes-Benz’s two commercial vans, cars actually form 46 percent of Mercedes-Benz’s luxury vehicle sales in Canada. That being said, car sales are down 16 percent in Mercedes-Benz showrooms in early 2018 as the C-Class, Benz’s top seller, is down 13 percent, a 489-unit loss compared to last year.
#7: Mazda | 40.4%
With slowing sales of the Mazda3, it’s now routine for the Mazda CX-5 to be Mazda’s best seller, month after month. CX-5 sales are up 14 percent so far this year, rising to 8,702 sales in early 2018. Mazda3 sales are down 12 percent to only 7,757 units and the 3 accounts for more than eight out of every ten Mazda car sales.
#6: BMW | 41.1%
BMW no longer relies on the 3 Series to power the brand forward. It’s not even the brand’s best seller, not by a long shot (BMW sold 2,849 of their X3 SUVs in the first four months of 2018; 1,886 3 Series sedans and wagons). BMW now markets six different utility vehicles, from X1 through to X6. Together, they earn nearly six out of every ten sales in BMW’s Canadian showrooms.
#5: Audi | 42.4%
Perennially one of Canada’s fastest-growing brands, Audi sales have grown in 12 consecutive years. Obviously, Audi needed cars to help out during that period of rapid growth, but much of the credit goes to the Q5, Canada’s top-selling utility vehicle. More than a third of Audi’s Canadian volume comes from the Q5, which outsells the top-selling Audi car (the A4) by more than 2-to-1.
#4: Honda | 47.8%
Boosted by Canada’s long-time best-selling car, the Civic, Honda remains one of Canada’s top car sellers. And the strength of that Civic makes Honda Canada a car-heavy company. Yet one year ago, Honda collected 51 percent of its sales with cars. That figure is now down below half, as Civic sales took a 9 percent year-over-year hit. CR-V volume, on the other hand, jumped 13 percent.
#3: Hyundai | 51.7%
Inordinately reliant on cars in an increasingly anti-car market, Hyundai’s Canadian volume is down 13 percent in early 2018 after falling 6 percent in 2017. Hyundai’s car sales are down 15 percent so far this year because of sharp Accent, Elantra, and Sonata declines. Those three cars produce 95 percent of Hyundai’s car volume, and their 2,869-unit loss through 2018’s first four months is keenly felt.
#2: Kia | 51.8%
Like its Hyundai corporate sibling, Kia doesn’t have the SUV lineup, nor the SUV demand, to shift with sufficient swiftness away from cars. But with or without Kia, Canadians are shifting away from cars, and Kia is fighting the SUV fight largely on the strength of just two models: Sorento and Sportage. So far this year, Kia’s most important car, the Forte, is down 11 percent as Kia prepares to launch an all-new 2019 model.
#1: Volkswagen | 57.5%
Volkswagen’s goal to derive more than 40 percent of its sales from SUVs occurred quickly in the Canadian market, where the new Atlas and Tiguan have collectively added 5,335 sales to Volkswagen’s ledger already this year. Plunging Jetta sales, ahead of the launch of a new 2019 model, have inflicted some real harm on the brand’s car numbers, however. Despite surging Golf volume, car sales are down 12 percent in Volkswagen’s stores in early 2018.
Canada’s auto market continues to grow, yet through the first one-third of 2018, car sales are down 10 percent, year-over-year, and now account for less than 30 percent of the auto market. No wonder Ford, which has often been forced to heavily incentivize cars while also resorting to pushing many to fleets, intends to soon base virtually all of its business on light trucks.
There remain, however, brands that form a healthy portion of their sales with traditional passenger cars. We’ve ranked automakers based on the percentage of their 2018 year-to-date Canadian sales (through April) produced by cars. To get a clear picture, we’ve only looked at brands that sold at least 2,000 vehicles in the first four months of the year.