March 1, 2017 / 8:41 PM / 5 months ago

UPDATE 2-Automakers notch 3.2 pct gain in Canada sales in February

(Adds comment, details from industry analyst)

By Alastair Sharp

TORONTO, March 1 (Reuters) - Automakers broadly notched decent growth in Canadian sales in February, data released by the companies and collated by an industry group showed on Wednesday, as growth in truck sales offset a slowdown in passenger car purchases.

The industry sold 123,032 new light vehicles in the month, a 3.2 percent gain from a year ago and a record for overall February sales, according to DesRosiers Automotive Consultants.

"2017 is off to a strong start," the industry analysts wrote, noting that truck sales grew 5.2 percent while passenger car sales slipped 2.1 percent.

Truck sales were a particular source of strength for Ford Motor Co, while fleet sales boosted overall numbers for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, the automakers said in separate statements.

General Motors Co said it delivered 16,528 vehicles across its Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac brands in the month, a 5 percent increase from a year earlier.

Ford said it sold 18,985 vehicles in Canada in the month, its best February performance since 2000 and a 3.2 percent increase from the 18,403 it sold in the same month a year ago.

That included 16,800 truck sales, with its popular F-Series notching its best-ever February sales, the company said in a statement.

Chrysler said it sold 19,115 vehicles in the month, a 2 percent increase from a year ago, with higher fleet sales helping offset a slip in retail activity.

Toyota Motor Corp said its total vehicle sales slipped 6.2 percent to 13,405, although sales of its higher-end Lexus and mainstay Corolla both jumped significantly.

Sales numbers rose for Honda Motor Co Ltd and Nissan Motor Co Ltd and slipped for Hyundai Motor Co and Mitsubishi Motors Corp, DesRosiers said.

After several years of record vehicle sales in Canada and Mexico, purchases are expected to edge lower in 2017, according to Scotiabank analyst Carlos Gomes.

U.S. auto sales fell slightly in the month even as automakers stepped up discounting to sustain sales, major manufacturers reported on Wednesday. (Reporting by Alastair Sharp; Editing by Frances Kerry and Jonathan Oatis)

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