May marked just the second month of this year in which sales were up over 2021 totals, which were higher than 2022 totals in all but November and December of last year.

DAC said that historically, May was more often than not the strongest sales month of the year over the previous decade. It took the sales crown eight times between 2010 and 2019.

“The last three years have seen very different sales patterns, however, with the first the pandemic and then the semiconductor shortage, meaning that the traditional spring selling season failed to materialize,” the consultancy said in a statement.

DAC said “there was definitely hope” in hope.

DAC Managing Partner Andrew King said May was “definitely a positive sign of improved vehicle availability across a broader array of manufacturers.”

However, the latest May total marks a 21-per-cent decline from 2019, when automakers sold 203,343 new vehicles. That was the last May before COVID-19 arrived and the microchip and inventory shortages started to take hold.

“While May 2023 did offer hope it should be noted that there is still a long way to go,” DAC said.

HOW THEY FARED

Honda Canada sales surged a whopping 53 per cent in May compared to the same month a year ago.

The automaker sold 14,288 vehicles. Honda brand sales were up 55.1 per cent to 13,204 while luxury Acura sales rose 30.6 per cent to 1,084.

However, that is still a 31-per-cent decline over the pre-pandemic numbers of 2019, when the automaker sold 20,687 in the month.

Honda Canada CEO Jean-Marc LeClerc said the microchip and inventory situations are improving.

“I think we’ve turned the corner. I think what you’re seeing there is just our ability to deliver a bank of sold orders that we’ve accumulated for a long time, and that continues to grow,” he told Automotive News Canada at BEV In-Depth: Mines to Mobility conference in Sudbury.

However, he also cautioned that microchips are still not “free flowing.”

“The second half of the year, we’re certainly looking for our operations to be at 100 per cent in our plants, but we’re also cautiously optimistic.”

Sales of the Canada-made CR-V saw its sales rise 61.1 per cent to 6,480, the most of any nameplate.

The Honda Civic, also made in Canada, posted an 18-per-cent increase to 3,217 last month. But that paled in comparison by percentage to the HR-V, up 281.6 per cent to 973; the Ridgeline, up 310.5 per cent to 353 and the Odyssey minivan, up 678.3 per cent to 467.

Kia sales were up 19.8 per cent to 7,293 while its cousin, Hyundai, posted a 1.2 per cent gain, selling 10,476.

Toyota Canada sales were down 5.9 per cent to 21,736. However, its luxury Lexus brand saw sales increase by 18.7 per cent to 3,015. Toyota brand sales were off nine per cent to 18,721.

— With files from David Kennedy