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GM leads March sales in Canada as automakers report record month

The General Motors CAMI car assembly plant, where the GMC Terrain and Chevrolet Equinox are built, is seen in Ingersoll, Ontario, Canada, January 27, 2017. REUTERS/Geoff Robins

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

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

Carmakers sold 187,540 vehicles last month, a 7.1 percent 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 percent.

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 percent from a year ago when it sold 24,498 cars and trucks.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCHA.MI) (FCAU.N), 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 (F.N) sold a total of 26,487 cars and trucks in Canada last month, up from 26,447, a 0.2 percent 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 percent, GM down 3.4 percent, and Ford closing 1.7 percent lower.

Other automakers also reported a significant increase in Canadian sales, including Nissan Motor Co Ltd <7201.T>, which sold 14,523 vehicles, representing a 26.7 percent jump. Honda Canada <7267.T> reported an 18.7 percent rise, selling 17,392 vehicles.

(Reporting by Solarina Ho; Editing by Matthew Lewis)