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Auto sales post best April since before the recession, up 4% from year ago

TORONTO - Canadian auto sales climbed in April to their highest levels for the month since before the recession.

Sales last month totalled 178,703 vehicles, up four per cent from 171,807 a year ago, according to data compiled by DesRosiers Automotive Consultants.

The gains were boosted by truck sales, which climbed 6.7 per cent to 101,034 from 94,714, while car sales increased 0.7 per cent to 77,669 from 77,093.

"Looking across the industry, the overall picture was one of relatively solid growth in April, with a few notable exceptions," said DesRosiers, noting that Volvo and Mini posted double-digit declines.

Ford Motor Company of Canada Ltd. sold 27,342 vehicles in April, down from a year ago but still enough to best the results from the other big U.S. automakers.

Ford said the April sales were down two per cent from a year ago when it sold 27,907 vehicles.

Ford Canada president Dianne Craig said fuel economy is more important than ever to customers.

"Ford customers have the power to choose a vehicle that suits their fuel economy needs and we are thrilled to see that the sales of our hybrid lineup increased last month," Craig said.

"Additionally, we are pleased to see continued growth in Lincoln, and that the MKZ and MKZ Hybrid are resonating with the premium luxury buyer."

Total car sales by Ford grew more than four per cent to 7,428, up from 7,098 a year ago, while truck sales slipped to 19,914 from 20,809 in April 2013.

Chrysler Canada posted a six per cent increase in sales for April compared with a year ago, but fell just short of the Ford results for the month.

The automaker said it sold 27,212 vehicles in April, up from 25,745 in the same month last year, as strong truck and Jeep sales offset a sharp drop in car sales.

"This month’s results marked the best April sales on record at Chrysler Canada in the last quarter of a century," said Dave Buckingham, Chrysler Canada's chief operating officer.

The automaker says its truck sales totalled 24,229, up 22 per cent from 19,865, a year ago. Car sales at Chrysler plunged to 2,983 from 5,880 in April 2013.

Meanwhile, General Motors of Canada posted a 1.5 per cent overall increase to 25,435 vehicles sold for April, up from 25,071 a year ago, helped by its car sales.

GM's car sales increased nearly six per cent to 8,757 compared with 8,277 a year ago. GM truck sales edged lower to 16,678 from 16,794.

Among the Japanese automakers, Toyota Canada Inc. led the way with 20,663 vehicles sold in April, up 2.9 per cent from 20,089 in April 2013 as sales of cars gained 1.5 per cent and trucks climbed 4.5 per cent.

"Our popular portfolio of new car and truck offerings continued to gain sales strength through April," said Larry Hutchinson, vice-president of sales at Toyota Canada.

By division, Toyota sales were up 2.9 per cent at 18,527, while Lexus sales were up 7.1 per cent at 1,628. Scion sales fell 9.4 per cent to 508.

Honda Canada reported the combined sales of its Honda and Acura divisions totalled 15,667, up two per cent from 15,343 a year ago.

The increase came as Honda sales were up three per cent at 13,687, while Acura sales in April slipped five per cent lower to 1,980.

Nissan Group sales posted an overall gain of nearly 30 per cent for April as they totalled 10,489, up from 8,078. Nissan sales rose to 9,576 from 7,416, while sales at its luxury Infiniti brand climbed to 913 from 662.

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