Driving By Numbers: 10 worst auto sales outcomes in Canada in 2022's third-quarter

More than one year into a global supply chain crunch that has sorely limited the automotive industry’s post-pandemic recovery, the Canadian auto market’s third-quarter performance was a far cry from ideal.

To be fair, the summer of 2022 was actually an exceptional period for some automakers, particularly traditional Detroit marques. Overall, the Ford Motor Company reported a 12-per-cent year-over-year improvement. Stellantis (including Ram, Jeep, Dodge, and Chrysler) posted a 14-per-cent uptick. And General Motors jumped 28 per cent compared with the summer of 2021. But aside from a handful of mostly niche European and Asian brands, most competitors in the Canadian market sold far fewer vehicles between July and September than in 2021 or 2020.

Just how bad was it? The 10 volume brands that tumbled at the fastest rate — a group we’ve broken down in full detail below — combined to shed a total of 71,413 sales over the span of only three months. It was markedly worse than the spring selling period — the same 10 brands lost 54,489 sales, year-over-year, between April and June, a 22-per-cent drop compared with Q3’s 30-per-cent decrease.

Including some of the biggest brands in the automotive world, this group of 10 saw their combined market share fall to 41 per cent in the summer of 2022, down from 53 percent one year ago. These 10 brands haven’t run out of customers; they’ve simply run very low on vehicles. And they’re watching from the sidelines as some of their biggest North American rivals gobble up market share simply by providing enough — just enough — trucks, SUVs, crossovers, and cars.

So, how bad is it? Excluding niche players such as Polestar and Jaguar, these 10 auto brands recorded the worst year-over-year sales decreases in Canada during the summer of 2022. Nine of them are Asian marques.

10. Toyota: down 23 per cent

Toyota is still ranked as Canada’s second-best-selling auto brand, but that doesn’t mean the summer of 2022 went Toyota’s way. Fortunately for Toyota, the Corolla and RAV4 (which account for nearly 60 per cent of the brand’s sales) declined at roughly the rate of the industry. Excluding those two models, third-quarter volume at Toyota was actually down a startling 36 per cent.

9. Hyundai: down 23 per cent

After a first-half in which Hyundai Canada was down just 3 per cent from 2021 levels — and a first-quarter in which Hyundai was actually up 8 per cent — chickens came home to roost in the summer of 2022. Hyundai simply didn’t have the vehicles required to meet demand. Subtract the new Ioniq 5 from the equation (as it wasn’t on sale a year ago) and Hyundai volume was actually off the 2021 Q3 pace by 26 per cent, a decline of more than 9,000 units.

auto, autos, car, cars, driving by numbers: 10 worst auto sales outcomes in canada in 2022's third-quarter

2023 Mazda3 and Mazda3 Sport GT Turbo Photo by Mazda Canada

8. Mazda: down 23 per cent

Unlike Hyundai, which suffered in the summer after a strong start to the year, Mazda hasn’t really had a positive point in 2022. The launch of the new CX-50 hasn’t even been much assistance due to such extremely limited stock. Only 1,671 CX-50s were sold through the end of September. Year-over-year, sales of the Mazda 3, MX-5, CX-3, and CX-30 were all down by more than 30 per cent.

7. Buick: down 25 per cent

The lone domestic brand ranked in this worrisome bunch, Buick stands in stark contrast to GM’s three other brands. Third-quarter sales at Cadillac shot up 38 per cent, Chevrolet reported a 36-per-cent surge, and GMC jumped 28 per cent. Buick, on the flip side, with its stable of four crossovers, lost 1,110 Q3 sales due largely to declines from its smallest duo. The Encore/Encore GX tandem combined for a 42-per-cent slide.

auto, autos, car, cars, driving by numbers: 10 worst auto sales outcomes in canada in 2022's third-quarter

2022 Kia Carnival Photo by Renita Naraine

6. Kia: down 31 per cent

So much for rapid market share growth through the early stages of the pandemic. Kia’s 2020 strength is long forgotten now that the brand’s previously hot-selling models are in such short supply. In the third-quarter, Kia’s Forte (down 42 per cent), Sorento (down 55 per cent), Soul (down 76 per cent), Carnival (down 81 per cent) combined to lose more than 7,600 sales compared with 2021’s pace.

5. Honda: down 37 per cent

Though at the time it surely seemed disappointing, Honda would now gladly accept the first-quarter’s 18-per-cent downturn. But since the spring, Honda volume has fallen at a precipitous rate due primarily to the two models that typically sit at the top of the sales charts. The Civic, Canada’s No.1 car in each of the last 24 years, fell 33 per cent in Q3 and is in grave danger of losing its top-selling crown to the Toyota Corolla. Canada’s No.2 SUV, the Honda CR-V, is transitioning into an all-new model this fall, which when combined with the supply shortfall already troubling Honda, caused a 63-per-cent drop in volume this summer.

auto, autos, car, cars, driving by numbers: 10 worst auto sales outcomes in canada in 2022's third-quarter

2022 Subaru Crosstrek Limited Photo by Brian Harper

4. Subaru: down 39 per cent

Subaru typically produces the overwhelming majority of its sales on the backs of three crossovers: Crosstrek, Forester, Outback. The trio produces better than 8 out of every 10 Subaru sales in Canada. Unfortunately, the brand-leading Crosstrek was down 37 per cent in Q3, Forester volume fell 34 per cent, and the Outback that generated 3,512 sales between July and September of 2021 was down 53 per cent to only 1,646 units this summer.

3. Mitsubishi: down 39 per cent

Somehow, Mitsubishi was making it all work. Take the Outlander, for example. A platform partner of the supply constrained Nissan Rogue, the Outlander mustered a 5-per-cent year-over-year sales increase through the first-half of 2022. Mitsubishi’s story changed in Q3 as Outlander volume dipped 37 per cent. Mitsubishi’s three other models fell well below 2021’s pace, as well.

2. Acura: down 40 per cent

Not surprisingly, Honda’s upmarket Acura division is traveling the same direction as its parent brand. Only at an even more rapid rate. Acura’s 40-per-cent Q3 downturn is the consequence of Acura’s typical top seller, the RDX, plunging 59 per cent. That’s 1,339 lost sales in the third-quarter for a brand that shed 1,788 units overall. Although the MDX ticked upward, the TLX sedan’s 86-per-cent drop certainly didn’t help Acura’s overall fortunes.

auto, autos, car, cars, driving by numbers: 10 worst auto sales outcomes in canada in 2022's third-quarter

2022 Nissan Sentra Photo by Jonathan Yarkony

1. Nissan: down 43 per cent

Shall we start with the good news? Nissan actually sold more Altimas, Leafs, and Frontiers in the summer of 2022 than during the same period one year ago; nearly 800 more. The bad news: Nissan’s leading car, the Sentra, tumbled 60 per cent, a drop of over 2,200 units. Murano volume fell by more than half, as well. Nissan’s Qashqai, withering on the vine, posted a 73-per-cent Q3 decrease. Overall, Nissan’s volume decreased by 11,463 units in the third-quarter alone; by 19,163 units year-to-date.

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