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Canada’s 10 best-selling car brands in 2022’s first half

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New-car sales numbers across the country continue to fall, but these automakers came out on top of the calamity

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A drive past your neighbourhood car dealerships would lead you to believe there is not even the remotest possibility that automakers could be selling vehicles in significant numbers.

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Yet in the second quarter of 2022, there were over 425,000 new vehicles sold in Canada; over 755,000 so far this year.

It’s hardly the stuff of which a dealer principal’s dreams are made of — those year-to-date numbers are down by more than 100,000 vehicles compared with 2021. Meanwhile, the second quarter was capped off by a discouraging June in which auto sales fell to a 13-year June low, according to Desrosiers Automotive Consultants.

And unfortunately, with inventory levels at all-time lows, June’s struggles are likely to continue through much of the summer, likely through the fall, and possibly well into winter. But again, the overall numbers aren’t remotely as dreadful as empty dealer lots suggest. Canada is tracking toward 1.5 million sales in 2022, well below record highs of roughly 2 million annual sales from 2016 to 2018, but still likely at least as numerous as 2009’s recession-derived 1.46 million sales.

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Over the last 15 years, auto sales in Canada have averaged 1.75 million per year, but in many of those years the market was largely incentive-fuelled. That ship has sailed, and while Canadians are buying fewer vehicles, they’re doing so at higher prices with virtually no rebates. From another perspective, would you rather be an automaker selling 100 cars at $25,000 a pop with tight margins or 85 $35,000 cars with hefty margins?

It’s not the best time to be an automotive manufacturer, nor is it the worst. Some auto brands, however, are coping with the supply chain crisis in far better fashion than others. In fact, Canada’s No. 1 auto brand sold more vehicles in the second quarter of 2022 than in the same period one year ago.

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How’d they do it? And how did other automakers fare during the first half of 2022? This examination of the 10 best-selling auto brands in Canada in 2022 so far answers those questions.

10. Kia: 33,151, down 20 percent

If the fact that Kia’s tumbling at nearly twice the rate of the industry at large isn’t sufficiently frustrating, the fact that Kia’s corporate partner, Hyundai, is gobbling up market share as Kia loses it must certainly be infuriating for Kia. Compared with the first half of 2020, when Kia made rapid progress right through the early stages of the pandemic, the brand’s Q2 Canadian market share has fallen by nearly a full percentage point to 4.3 percent.

Jeep Wrangler Sport
Jeep Wrangler Sport Photo by Brendan McAleer

9. Jeep: 35,033, up 20 percent

One of these things is not like the others. While every other brand on this list of Canada’s top sellers sold fewer vehicles in 2022’s first half than during the same period one year ago, Jeep accelerated – quickly – in the opposite direction. Jeep’s 20-percent year-over-year gain is fuelled in large part by the addition of new models (the Grand Wagoneer and Grand Cherokee L combined to add more than 6,400 sales to the ledger) but primarily by the growth of the Wrangler. At 13,851 sales so far this year, Wrangler volume is up by more than 4,200 units over the span of only six months.

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8. Ram: 39,647, down 4 percent

Though bolstered by improved commercial van sales, Stellantis’s Ram brand remains primarily a pickup environment. The ProMaster and ProMaster City reported a combined for a 28-percent jump. Ram’s full-size and heavy-duty trucks reported a modest 5-percent dip, but at 37,641 units so far this year, trucks account for 95 percent of Ram’s Canadian volume.

2022 Nissan Frontier Pro-4X
2022 Nissan Frontier Pro-4X Photo by Brendan McAleer

7. Nissan: 40,524, down 18 percent

A surging Pathfinder helps. After a brief hiatus, the new Frontier is back with a bang. The Altima, Sentra, and Qashqai are selling more often this year than last, as well. But at Nissan, a dramatic loss in Rogue sales brings the whole brand down. The Rogue is off last year’s pace by 47 percent, a loss of 8,455 sales. It’s still Nissan’s best seller (albeit barely, besting the Kicks’ 8,401 units by only 786 sales) but its decline is the primary factor behind Nissan’s 23-percent Q2 loss and 18-percent first-half decline.

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6. GMC: 43,919, down 8 percent

Pay no mind to rising fuel prices — GMC’s sales of full-size Yukon and Yukon XL SUVs are up 5 percent so far this year. Of course, that SUV duo is a small piece of the GMC pie, which is largely formed by the Sierra pickup. 27,063 of GMC’s 43,919 units sold are accounted for by the Sierra, sales of which tumbled 18 percent in 2022’s first-half. Better news at GMC comes from the Terrain, which has bounced back from major production slowdowns with a 70-percent year-over-year improvement in 2022. The Terrain is GMC’s No. 2 vehicle with 7,492 sales.

2022 Honda Civic Hatchback Sport Touring
2022 Honda Civic Hatchback Sport Touring Photo by Nadine Filion

5. Honda: 45,991, down 29 percent

Generally quite capable of securing a podium position as one of Canada’s top 3 brands, Honda’s near-one-third decline in auto sales is the worst among top-tier brands. Only Buick (down 41 percent), Land Rover (down 52 percent), and Jaguar (down 64 percent) posted more dramatic year-over-year losses. Every automaker is struggling to manufacturer enough vehicles, but it’s complicated for Honda in 2022 by major model transitions: the HR-V and Canadian-built CR-V are both undergoing major generational changeovers.

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4. Chevrolet: 54,125, down 17 percent

Just as GMC benefited from improved Terrain sales, the Terrain’s Chevrolet Equinox sibling is in the midst of a major post-shutdown recovery with a 31-percent year-over-year improvement in 2022’s first half. (Equinox sales jumped 41 percent in Q2.) Chevrolet, like GMC, nevertheless remains a pickup-dominated brand. Of the 54,125 Chevrolets sold in Canada between January and June, 57 percent were trucks.

2022 Hyundai Kona N
2022 Hyundai Kona N Photo by Nadine Filion

3. Hyundai: 60,282, down 3 percent

8 percent of the new vehicles sold in Canada in 2022’s first half were Hyundais, up from 7.3 percent a year ago as the brand steals market share – and podium placement – from Honda, Mazda, Nissan, and Hyundai’s Kia partner brand. In addition to Hyundai’s positive results, the brand’s Genesis offshoot is surging, as well. Sales jumped 57 percent to 2,725 units in 2022’s first half, a far cry from Benz-BMW-Audi levels but stronger than Land Rover and only a few hairs short of Infiniti.

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2. Toyota: 92,288, down 13 percent

Solidly entrenched in second place with a 53-percent margin of victory over Hyundai and a 3,100-monthly deficit in sales compared with Ford, Toyota is throttling forward with increasingly greater hybrid and EV focus. Across the Toyota and Lexus spectrum (Toyota’s 92,288 sales don’t include another 12,115 from Lexus) more than a quarter of the automaker’s volume is now generated by so-called “electrified” vehicles. Those are hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and the bZ4x electric crossover.

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning
2022 Ford F-150 Lightning Photo by Clayton Seams

1. Ford: 111,075 down 5 percent

Ford’s first-quarter difficulties, in which the all-conquering F-Series only outsold the No. 2 Ram by a mere three-unit margin – are becoming a distant memory after the spring’s rapid progress. Ford sold 77-percent more full-size pickups, 32,222 in total, in the April-June period than in January-March. That was enough for the F-Series to outperform the Ram by nearly 13,000 units in Q2.

The F-Series isn’t Ford’s only story, although it does account for nearly half of the brand’s year-to-date sales. Overall, Blue Oval sales grew by more than 9 percent, year-over-year, during the spring thanks not only to the F-Series but also to a doubling of Edge volume, an 8-percent Escape uptick, and a 36-percent improvement in Bronco Sport volume.

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