Canadian vehicle sales rose for the second month in a row in January, up 6.2%, but that was compared to a year earlier when sales were at their lowest point in a decade and the country was gripped by recession.

A massive recall by Toyota that temporarily suspended sales of eight of their most popular models added to the lacklustre results, Reuters reported.

Canadians bought 81,581 vehicles last month, compared with 76,850 a year earlier, according to data from DesRosiers Automotive Consultants.

"But at least sales were up slightly and January is the lowest absolute sales month each year, so you can't read too much into this early market performance," said company president Dennis DesRosiers. "March to June are the make or break months."

Toyota Canada sales fell 10.4% to 10,269 vehicles. The automaker's Toyota division recorded a 14.8% drop as many of its most popular models were pulled from showrooms toward the end of the month due to a faulty accelerator pedal mechanism. The company was also recalling 270,000 vehicles in Canada because of the problem.

"We are currently shipping pedal components to our Toyota dealers and we anticipate modifications to customer vehicles to begin later this week," Toyota Canada International managing director Stephen Beatty told the news agency.

"We also anticipate that new vehicle sales suspended as part of our recall action will resume this weekend."

Toyota's luxury Lexus brand notched a 62.1% gain over last January.

General Motors was, however, the biggest auto seller in Canada last month as its sales rose 4.4% to 14,880 vehicles. Car sales were down 3.8%, while truck sales rose 8.8%.

Chrysler was second with a 6% rise in sales to 11,940 vehicles. Its passenger car sales fell 39.3% while truck sales jumped 17.6%.

Ford Canada sales rose 5.7% to 11,553 vehicles, with car sales up 0.8% and trucks up 7% to 9,272. Ford was the only one of the top five automakers in Canada to record positive sales in 2009, and it said January marked 15 consecutive months of market share increases.

Honda Canada posted a 15% January decline to 6,393 vehicles. Sales in the Honda division slid 12%, while the Acura division was down 35% year-on-year, Reuters said.

The Association of International Automobile Manufacturers of Canada (AIAMC) - representing most non-domestic brands - said members began the year with sales up 6.5 % compared to overall industry sales up 6.2%. 

“January has begun for most AIAMC members where December left off, with several companies experiencing record breaking January sales,” said president David Adams. “Under normal circumstances we would have anticipated collective member company sales being even more robust, however the fact that the overall industry sales advanced by 6.2% certainly starts the year off on the right foot for the entire industry.”

“There are a lot of new products being introduced to the car buying public throughout the auto show season in the first quarter of this year, and the strong January sales are hopefully a harbinger for strong first quarter sales reflecting consumer interest in these new products,”  added Adams

AIAMC members' truck sales were up 11.9% while passenger car sales were up 3.6% compared to last January. 

AIAMC members had a 52.7% market share for the month of January, roughly the same as the January 2009 market share (52.5%).