Canadian vehicle sales hit 1.65 million units in July; 2nd monthly gain in a row

Canadians were in a vehicle-buying mood in July, according to figures in the latest Global Auto Report from Scotia Economics.

In this Feb. 5

In this Feb. 5

TORONTO — Canadians were in a vehicle-buying mood in July, according to figures in the latest Global Auto Report from Scotia Economics.

The report says Canadian sales advanced to an annualized 1.65 million units in July, lifting volumes at several automakers to the highest July on record.

It was the second monthly rebound in a row after a weak performance in May.

Scotia Economics says the recent improvement in sales has led it to raise its full-year 2010 Canadian sales forecast to 1.565 million units from 1.525 million.

The bank also says Canadians are shifting away from small cars, with segment volumes declining two per cent year-over-year through July.

Small cars traditionally dominate the Canadian market, but their share of the market has slumped to less than 29 per cent so far this year — the lowest level in more than a decade — and down from a peak of 35 per cent in 2008.

Globally, says Scotia Economics, car sales fell in July compared to a year ago in a significant slowdown from a 16 per cent surge in the first half of 2010.

Senior economist Carlos Gomes says a ”double-digit slump in Western Europe, due to the expiry of scrappage incentives, accounted for the fall-off.”

“However, outside of Europe, purchases have also started to moderate, with volumes advancing year-over-year by only nine per cent last month — the smallest gain since last summer.