Canadian buyers’ seemingly insatiable appetite for new light-trucks powered dealers to their third-best-ever March sales performance of 156,726 units.

At 6,028 units on each of 26 selling days, the March tally edged past year-ago’s 6,010-unit pace, by 0.3% on volume of 156,260 and bested by 37.2% the 4,395 units sold daily in February when 105,479 LVs were delivered.

The performance trailed the record 158,114 units delivered in 1988 by less than 1%.

Last month’s daily sales actually beat second-best 2012’s 5,622-a-day pace by 7.2%, but failed to top the month’s 157,423 deliveries because there were two additional selling days in March 2012.

Still, buyers drove off with record 91,627 new light trucks last month, surpassing by 6.1% the prior record of 86,363 set a year earlier, as well as the 85,105 units sold in third-best 2011.

Cars, on the other hand, seemed to languish of dealer lots.

Totaling 64,099 units, car deliveries ranked no better than fifth place over the last 29 years, posing no threat to the record 109,401 units sold in March 1988 or to the second-best 105,500-unit tally posted in 1987.

While car sales did exhibit a strong 49.1% bounce-back from February’s storm-hit 40,309 deliveries, they fell 6.9% shy of matching the 69,897 sold in March 2013.

Ford’s LV sales suffered biggest decline among volume producers compared with a year ago, 10.6%, although they were up 27.1% from the prior month.

Chrysler held its industry lead with March sales of 24,481 LVs, 23.1% better than February and 1.5% ahead of the prior year.

Third-place General Motors’ March sales of 21,790 units were up a whopping 54.9% over February’s and beat prior year’s tally by 7.8%

European brands also managed to best their February performance, but at 14,868 units, fell 10.5% short of matching March 2013’s tally, thanks to declines of 31.6% at Volkswagen and 12.5% at BMW.

Asian makes were the only group to out sell both the prior month and year-ago in March with gains of 43.3% and 4.1%, respectively.

 

Total LV sales in the first quarter reached 357,632 units, or 0.9% more than the 354,364 sold in March last year, as Chrysler widened its lead over rival Ford to 15.4% from 2.0%. Chrysler also increased its market share to 16.9% this year from 16.3% in first-quarter 2013.

abinder@wardsauto.com