Concern about a possible slowdown in the Canadian economy in coming months wasn’t enough to keep a record number of light-truck buyers from turning up at the country’s dealerships last month, a feat that propelled total light-vehicle deliveries to a new March high.

The light-truck market strength more than offset declining car sales, pumping total LV volume to 159,840 units, or 6,394 daily, a 9.1% increase from the prior March record of 158,114 vehicles set in 1988 at a daily rate of 5,856 units.

That also marked a 5.9% jump from the 156,908 units sold over 24 days March last year.

The complete market turnaround since 1988 is evidenced by the fact that it was record-March sales of 109,401 cars that pushed the industry to a new level 27 years ago, while the 2015 peak was due to record light-truck volume.

Consumers took home an average of 3,858 new light trucks on each of 25 selling days in March for a total of 96,464 units.

That was a 9.5% gain on the prior March record of 91,627 set a year ago, when sales averaged 3,524 units on each of 24 days, marking the third consecutive year of record-March light truck deliveries.

In the charts, car sales eked out a 1.0% daily-rate gain on year-ago only because there was one less selling day in March 2015, as volume fell to 63,376 units from 65,338 in like-2014.

Overall it was third-poorest tally in the last 30 years.

FCA Canada remained solidly entrenched in first place with a 5.7% year-over-year March sales increase, thanks to a 7.5% improvement in light-trucks that offset a 3.9% shortfall in car deliveries.

Even a 7.0% hike in sales of its all-new F-series pickup wasn’t enough to get Ford out of second place, due to its 1.1% overall sales decline.

The industry’s March performance brought its first-quarter performance to a close at a record 367,713 units, edging past the prior LV benchmark of 363,279 set in 2008 while besting the 357,862 vehicles delivered a year earlier by 2.8%.

abinder@wardsauto.com