General Motors leads March sales in Canada as automakers report record month

TORONTO —  Automakers sold a record number of vehicles in Canada during March, with General Motors Canada leading in sales volume and posting its best monthly sales performance since 2008.

Overall Canadian sales were driven by an 11.1 per cent increase in consumer demand for pickups and sport utility vehicles during the month, which more than offset a 0.3 per cent dip in passenger car sales.

Carmakers sold 187,540 vehicles last month, a 7.1 per cent increase over the same period last year, which at the time was the best March since 1988, according to industry data from Desrosiers Automotive Consultants.

Sales growth for the first three months of 2017 was 4.6 per cent.

GM Canada, which makes Chevrolet and GMC vehicles, reported double-digit sales growth, selling 30,115 total vehicles in March, an increase of 22.9 per cent from a year ago when it sold 24,498 cars and trucks.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles , which makes Dodge and Chrysler brands, posted a marginal sales rise, with 26,531 cars and trucks sold during the month, compared with 26,469 a year ago.

Ford Motor Co sold a total of 26,487 cars and trucks in Canada last month, up from 26,447, a 0.2 per cent rise.

In the United States, monthly figures came in below market expectations, adding to concerns that the boom in U.S. auto sales may be waning. Shares of the three big automakers fell on Monday, with FCA falling nearly 5 per cent, GM down 3.4 per cent, and Ford closing 1.7 per cent lower.

Other automakers also reported a significant increase in Canadian sales, including Nissan Motor Co Ltd, which sold 14,523 vehicles, representing a 26.7 percent jump. Honda Canada reported an 18.7 percent rise, selling 17,392 vehicles.

© Thomson Reuters 2017

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Senator Demands More Info About EPA Chief’s Refusal To Ban Brain-Damaging Pesticide

WASHINGTON — Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) has requested all documents related to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt’s decision to go against the scientific recommendation of his own agency and refuse to ban a widely used pesticide that’s been linked to learning disabilities in children.

In a Friday letter to Pruitt, Carper, a ranking member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, said he is “troubled” by the agency chief’s order to allow chlorpyrifos, an organophosphate insecticide that’s been used since the 1960s, to remain on the market for agricultural use. Pruitt “did not present any new scientific or legal analysis” to justify the decision, Carper noted.

“The previous finding to ban chlorpyrifos was based on extensive data, models and research developed by industry, government and academic scientists,” Carper wrote. “Absent such justification, this decision to lift the proposed ban could undermine the trust the public has in the agency to keep its food, water and air safe.”

In November 2015, under the Obama administration, the EPA proposed to permanently ban the use of the chemical on food crops, citing potential risks to human health. The move stemmed from a 2007 petition filed by the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Pesticide Action Network North America.

In announcing his reversal, Pruitt said the proposed ban relied largely on studies “whose application is novel and uncertain.” He claimed that his decision was about “returning to using sound science in decision-making — rather than predetermined results.”

Critics quickly condemned Pruitt and President Donald Trump, accusing them of valuing corporate profits over public health. And environmental groups, including NRDC and Earthjustice, promised to fight the EPA in court.

Chlorpyrifos, also known by its trade name Lorsban, is used in nearly 100 countries on more than 50 different crops, including corn, soybeans, cranberries and broccoli. It was largely banned for at-home use in the U.S. in 2000, but continues to be widely used on thousands of American farms. 

Dow Chemical Co., the chemical’s producer, says it “remains confident that authorized uses of chlorpyrifos products offer wide margins of protection for human health and safety.” However, even low-dose exposure to organophosphates, particularly in the womb, has been found to harm brain development in children, leading to higher risk of disorders like autism.

The Washington Post reported Friday that a new EPA plan calls for laying off 25 percent of the federal agency’s staff and eliminating dozens of programs, including pesticide safety.

Pruitt, the former attorney general of Oklahoma, is a longtime critic of the EPA who denies the overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change. A recent email dump revealed his close relationship with the oil, gas and utility companies he’s now tasked with regulating. 

Carper has asked the agency to provide him with copies of all documents and communications related to Pruitt’s decision on chlorpyrifos by April 28. 

You can read Carper’s full letter here.

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