Canada automotive sales continued to cruise in August, racking up their third consecutive month of gains and raising the number of months with increases over like-1998 to seven.

Total vehicle sales — including estimates for some medium- and heavy-duty makes, which will report actual data later this month — numbered 124,697, for a daily selling rate (DSR) of 4,988, 13.5% above August 1998's 4,394 (25 selling days both periods).

Light vehicle sales alone posted a DSR of 4,862, also 13.5% above year-ago. Based on light vehicle sales, the biggest gainers among the highest volume companies in August over last year were General Motors of Canada Ltd., up 32.2%, and Ford Motor Co. of Canada Ltd., up 10.1%. Also, BMW of North America Inc. (including Land Rover) sales increased 57.4%, Mazda North America was up 50.5% and Hyundai Motor America increased 38.6%. Excluding GM, whose big increase was largely due to last year's parts plant strikes that caused depletion of inventory and, consequently, sales, August sales increased 7.4% over same-month 1998.

European brands averaged the biggest success in August, with BMW up 69.6%; Audi, 47.2%; Mercedes, 42.5%; and Porsche, 17.0%. Notably, Toyota Motor Sales recorded a 5.7% decline and year-to-date sales are down 2.4%, despite booming success in the U.S. Also, Honda Canada Inc. sales increased a tepid 2.0%, well below the industry average, but its to-date mark is 10.1% above year-ago.