May auto sales show improvement, Still Lags behind 2019

Canadian new vehicle buyers took home 153,761 vehicles in May

Evan Williams By: Evan Williams June 9, 2021

Continuing a trend of massive ups and downs as the market is compared with some of the worst months for auto sales ever, new car sales were up from 2020. The increase was nearly 36 per cent, though that still leaves the levels down from not just April of this year but also from May of 2019, the most recent May before the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Canadian new vehicle buyers took home 153,761 vehicles in May, as reported by DesRosiers Automotive Consultants (DAC), affected by lockdowns in several provinces, but also increasingly impacted by inventory shortages related to ongoing semiconductor and other supply shortages. Many automakers are seeing dealer inventories a fraction of normal, and a lack of availability can send customers home in their old ride in place of a new one. “The industry is still struggling with its current twin troubles; with problems persisting on both the demand and supply sides of the market,” said DAC managing partner Andrew King.

Hyundai announced sales up 69.1 per cent versus the year before, with the all-new Tucson the brand’s top-seller and taking third place in its segment with 3,075 sales. Other highlights include a near doubling of Kona sales to 2,973 with 711 of those the electric model.

Mazda Canada reported 5,805 total sales, up 67.7 per cent from 2020. The figure trailed May 2019 by around 400 vehicles and May of 2019 by nearly 2,000. The CX-5 remains Mazda’s best seller, but the CX-30 crossover and Mazda3 sedan and hatch were nearly tied for second place.

Toyota announced its fifth consecutive month of record hybrid and PHEV sales with 28.8 per cent of its vehicles leaving dealers with those drivelines. Highlander, RAV4, and Tacoma set new records and the company sold a total of 23,061 including Toyota and Lexus vehicles.

Volvo reported sales up 84 per cent on the year and 67 for the month with 1,009 vehicles sold in May. The brand’s Recharge electric and PHEV models made up 19 per cent of those sales.

Subaru posted an 85 percent gain overall and the best May ever for the compact Crosstrek. That model saw 2,234 sales up 165 per cent from the same month last year. So far this quarter, Subaru’s sales in Canada are up 151 per cent from the same period in 2020, and the brand’s 5,503 deliveries came within 300 sales of beating its May of 2019 numbers, which at the time was Subaru’s best sales month ever.

Kia, normally on the monthly list, didn’t report sales for May. Expect a more complete look at the industry next month as the second quarter ends. Many of the top-selling automakers release data only quarterly including GM, Ford, and Stellantis, automakers who were also heavily impacted by production shortages on some of their most popular models including full-size pickups.