Dave Hall, The Windsor StarPublished: Tuesday, June 03, 2008
Led by the Windsor-built Chrysler Town and Country and Dodge Caravan, Chrysler Canada has recorded its best May sales month in 10 years and extended its unprecedented streak of year-over-year sales increases to 22 consecutive months.
Sales rose by seven per cent to 27,325 units in May.
The Town and Country and Caravan topped 6,500 combined units for the first time last month, increasing by more than 50 per cent year-to-date over last year, said the company.
Our minivan business is remarkable in Canada," said Reid Bigland, president and CEO of Chrysler Canada. "With rising fuel prices, Canadian consumers are struggling with the costs associated with large SUVs but they don't want to forego the functionality.
"As a result, they're getting back into our minivans in record numbers," said Bigland.
With sales averaging 4,300 units a month, the minivan is Chrysler's top-selling vehicle.
In May, sales of the two vehicles reached 6,258 units, an increase of 52 per cent over last May and a jump of 48 per cent to 21,645 units through the first five months of this year.
Across Canada, overall sales slipped by one-half of one per cent but still posted their second-best month of May and are on track to their best year ever, according to auto analyst Dennis DesRosiers.
"Rarely does Canada go counter-cyclical to the U.S. market for any length of time and it has now been a couple of years," said DesRosiers. "But there is still no sign of Canada letting up."
But across the U.S., the domestic auto industry remains in free fall with Asian automakers outselling the Big Three in May for the first time, as fuel-conscious customers rejected trucks for compacts.
Japanese and South Korean sales increased by 3.7 per cent while GM, Ford and Chrysler sales plummeted by 21 per cent, largely caused by soaring gasoline prices.
In Canada, Chrysler sales were also supported by the increased demand for fuel-efficient vehicles such as the Jeep Patriot and Dodge Caliber.
"Chrysler Canada's retail sales growth this year is driven by three vehicle segments that are increasing in popularity with Canadian consumers," said Dave Buckingham, vice-president of vehicle sales. "They are fuel-efficient compacts, long-wheelbase minivans and crossovers.
"Fuel efficiency continues to remain top of mind for consumers and we are well-positioned to capitalize on this demand with 20 vehicles in our product line capable of 30-plus mpg on the highway."
Chrysler's minivan was Canada's third-highest selling vehicle last year and has topped the market segment for 24 consecutive years.
Menawhile, sales of the Dodge Journey reached 1,581 units and the Dodge Ram held steady in May at 4,034 units.
Combined Patriot, Compass and Caliber sales were up 36 per cent compared to one year ago, setting a new record for best sales month.
-- with files from CanWest News Services