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Baby boomers big spending fuels record-breaking year for Canadian car sales

In this Jan. 12, 2015, file photo, Ford vehicles sit on the lot at a car dealership, in Brandon, Fla. Ford Motor Co. expects its pretax profit to fall in 2017 but improve in 2018 as it invests in emerging businesses. Ford updated its outlook Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016, at its annual investor day.
In this Jan. 12, 2015, file photo, Ford vehicles sit on the lot at a car dealership, in Brandon, Fla. Ford Motor Co. expects its pretax profit to fall in 2017 but improve in 2018 as it invests in emerging businesses. Ford updated its outlook Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016, at its annual investor day. AP Photo/Chris O'Meara

TORONTO – The Canadian auto industry enjoyed record-breaking sales last year, driven by consumers who bought SUVs, pickup trucks and high-end vehicles such as Jaguars and Porsches, DesRosiers Automotive Consultants said Wednesday.

Overall, there were 1.948 million sales of light vehicles last year, an increase of 2.7 per cent compared to 2015, the Richmond Hill, Ont.-based consulting firm said.

Ford took the top spot last year, with sales up 9.3 per cent to 304,445 vehicles. Fiat Chrysler was next, though its sales slipped by 5.3 per cent year-over-year to 277,445 vehicles, followed by General Motors with 267,341 vehicles sold, up 1.5 per cent.

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Some of the most dramatic gains in sales were by luxury automakers, a trend that consulting firm president Dennis DesRosiers attributes to demand from baby boomers with disposable income.

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Jaguar saw its sales jump 134.1 per cent to 3,034 in 2016, while Maserati sales grew by 33.5 per cent to 682 vehicles. Porsche sold 7,061 vehicles last year, up 10.1 per cent from 2015.

“Boomers have worked hard all their lives,” DesRosiers said. “They’re retiring in record numbers. The kids are gone, the college costs are gone, the housing costs are paid for and they’re treating themselves to vehicles. Nice vehicles.”

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But the era of soaring auto sales – 2015 was also record year -may be coming to an end as interest rates are expected to rise, he said.

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“We think that the market has peaked,” DesRosiers said. “Interest rates are likely to go up and most autos are bought with debt.”

Sales of passenger cars declined 7.6 per cent from a year ago to 662,038, while light truck sales were up 8.8 per cent at 1,286,861.

For the month of December, sales decreased 2.6 per cent to 125,600 vehicles, down from 128,920 in December 2015.

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