Ford posts best month in a decade

Ford Canada reported its best sales month in a decade Friday and claimed it remained the top-selling automaker in Canada during a month of strong across-the-board sales in June.

TORONTO — Ford Canada reported its best sales month in a decade Friday and claimed it remained the top-selling automaker in Canada during a month of strong across-the-board sales in June.

Ford Canada reported 31,707 sales for the month, a 16 per cent increase over last June and its best monthly result since May 2000. Ford (NYSE:F) says it finished the first half of 2010 with sales up 23 per cent over 2009.

“Any increase for Ford of Canada this month is significant when you consider that we are comparing this June’s sales to an unprecedented month this time last year,” said Ford Canada CEO David Mondragon.

“In June 2009, we were the only major manufacturer to show a sales increase (Ford sales were up 25 per cent) in an industry that was down 14 per cent and where two key competitors were in bankruptcy.”

June sales figures for General Motors Canada were not available by late Friday afternoon.

In May, Ford’s Canadian sales were up 19.4 per cent at 26,110 vehicles, ahead of General Motors, which came in second in Canada with sales of 25,995 vehicles.

That was a far cry from the heady days of the last decade, when GM routinely captured more than a quarter of the Canadian market and was always in the top spot.

For 2009 as a whole, GM clung to its top spot in terms of market share, selling 17.2 per cent of vehicles bought in Canada.

Ford was second with 15.4 per cent, Toyota third with 13 per cent, Chrysler fourth with 11.1 per cent and Honda fifth with 8.4 per cent.

Meanwhile, June sales were strong among all Canadian automakers that reported Friday.

Chrysler Canada said its June sales soared 101 per cent to 9,211 vehicles, marking its seventh consecutive month of more than 20 per cent growth.

“In 2009, we restructured Chrysler Canada for future profitability and growth and in 2010 we are nailing it,” said Reid Bigland, president and CEO of Chrysler Canada.

“But the best part about June’s 101 per cent increase is that it was not a one-trick pony. Year-to-date, our sales are up 36 per cent in an industry up only slightly from 2009. Proof positive that our products and restructuring efforts are on the right track.”

Record June sales of Chrysler’s Ram pickup drove growth, followed by the Dodge Grand Caravan minivan. Chrysler said minivan sales more than tripled compared with June 2009.

Meanwhile, smaller manufacturers Kia and Nissan also reported sales records in June.

Kia Canada Inc. sold 5,864 vehicles in June, the most in its 11-year history, and marked 18 months of year-over-year sales increases.

So far this year, Kia Canada Inc. has sold 26,506 units, a 19.9 per cent increase over the first six months of 2009.

Nissan Canada Inc. also reported its best June to date, selling 8,057 vehicles, an increase of 8.6 per cent over 2009. For the first half of the year, sales for Nissan Canada are up 5.2 per cent over 2009.

Nissan brand sales totalled 7,248 units in June and its luxury Infiniti brand sold 809 vehicles.

The June success of the big automakers in Canada is in stark contrast to the situation south of the border, where most automakers saw sales drop from May to June.

The face of the North American auto industry has been changing for years, but the pace of that change accelerated dramatically over the last 18 months when the financial crisis and global recession hit.

Many of the world’s biggest automakers suffered from a steep reduction in sales as a result of tight credit conditions for consumers and dealers as well as a general economic slowdown that clamped a lid on new auto sales in North America and around the world.

GM and Chrysler both filed for U.S. bankruptcy protection last spring, and managed to survive with billions of dollars in U.S., Canadian and Ontario government loans.