Toyota, Hyundai post record November sales as consumers open their wallets again

Canadian sales for many automakers jumped in November, due in large part to the fact that last November was when the industry — and the economy — collapsed.

TORONTO — Canadian sales for many automakers jumped in November, due in large part to the fact that last November was when the industry — and the economy — collapsed.

But big jumps in car sales numbers weren’t due solely to year-over-year comparisons — Toyota and Hyundai both reported record sales for the month of November, a sign that consumers are increasingly willing to spend money on big-ticket items like cars.

Toyota Canada said Tuesday that it sold 14,829 vehicles in November, up 27.4 per cent from a year earlier. This boost was led by truck sales, which were up 54.1 per cent. The luxury Lexus division sold 1,283 vehicles, up 11.4 per cent to its best November on record.

Meanwhile, Hyundai is quickly distinguishing itself as an able competitor with the five companies that traditionally lead the pack in terms of Canadian market share — General Motors, Chrysler, Ford, Honda and Toyota. Hyundai Auto Canada Corp. said it sold a record-breaking 7,022 units in November, up 26.2 per cent from a year earlier.

This marks the South Korean automaker’s 11th straight month of double-digit sales increases, and 10th straight record-breaking month. It has already surpassed its best sales year ever.

“We’ve been working very hard at proving to Canadians that Hyundai is the smart choice,” said Steve Kelleher, president and CEO of Hyundai Canada.

“Our efforts are paying off. With everything that’s happened with the economy this year, consumers have become more strategic with their purchase decisions.”

Ford (NYSE:F) — which set itself apart from its North American competitors by neither filing for bankruptcy protection nor asking for government bailout money earlier this year — also saw a positive November, although its sales increase wasn’t as dramatic as in previous months.

Ford Canada said its sales were up 7.5 per cent in November, its sixth consecutive month of sales gains. The vehicles built at Ford’s Oakville, Ont., plant — which include the Lincoln MKX, Ford Edge and Ford Flex — saw their sales improve by 25 per cent.

“Ford of Canada retail sales are up nearly 13,500 units year-to-date. That’s a nine per cent increase,” said David Mondragon, president and CEO of Ford Canada.

“We continue to gain market share despite industry sales being down about four per cent.”

The month was less bright for Honda Canada, which sold just under 8,900 vehicles at its Honda and Acura divisions last month, down four per cent from November 2008.

Other vehicle makers will announce their numbers later in the day.

The auto industry as a whole has suffered for more than a year as a result of tight credit conditions for consumers and dealers as well as a general economic slowdown that has resulted in higher Canadian unemployment.

However, there are signs that economic conditions are slowly starting to improve. Statistics Canada reported Monday that real gross domestic product, an inflation-adjusted measure of economic growth, expanded at an annualized rate of 0.4 per cent in the third quarter, heralding an official end to the recession.

Consumer spending on goods and services, one of the pillars of Canadian economic health, was up 0.8 per cent, the biggest increase since the fourth quarter of 2007 as households increased spending on durable goods 2.4 per cent, particularly on new and used motor vehicles and on furniture, the agency said.

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