Auto sales peak in February with a 24% jump

Auto sales in Canada in February reached an all-time high for the month after jumping 24.4% compared to last year, indicates the automotive sector consulting firm DesRosiers.

DesRosiers estimates that sales totaled a “staggering” 129,000 units in February, up from about 104,000 in the same month the previous year.

The firm points out that the sales total also eclipsed the 125,000 units sold in February 2020, the last time the month had an extra day and just before the pandemic threw the industry into turmoil.

The seasonally adjusted annual rate of 2.1 million units for the unseasonably warm month was the highest since January 2018, DesRosiers said.

The latest sales figures, marking the 16e consecutive month of year-over-year growth, show that many of the challenges the industry faced are now under control, Andrew King, managing partner at DesRosiers, said in a statement.

February 2024 sales tell us that some of the obstacles of recent years – and in particular the supply constraints of new vehicles – are now well and truly behind us.

Andrew King, Managing Partner at DesRosiers

The pandemic has created supply issues both due to factory shutdowns and a surge in demand for electronics that has led the auto industry to a shortage of semiconductors. The disruptions have led to insufficient supply and rising prices as automakers focus on their most expensive and profitable models.

Production is expected to finally return to pre-pandemic levels this year.

A Scotiabank report last month estimated that North American production is expected to reach 16 million units this year, roughly the average of the last 10 years before the pandemic.

Last year’s production was estimated at 15.6 million units, while a low of 12.9 million was recorded in 2021.

Prices remain high

But even if production recovers, prices remain high.

The average price of a new vehicle reached $67,259 in December, up 14.2% from a year earlier, AutoTrader said in its latest monthly report. The average used vehicle reached $36,863, an increase of 1.7%.

Increased supply at least appears to ease the pressure on price growth. The average price of new vehicles in December was down 0.3% from November, while the price of used vehicles was down 2.4% from the previous month.

But even with high prices, Mr. King stressed that there was enough pent-up demand to continue to drive sales.


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