Toyota Canada continued to catch up to the Big Three North American car makers in September, posting a 20% increase in car and truck sales, while General Motors, Ford and DaimlerChrysler all saw sales skid, Reuters reported.

According to the news agency, Toyota Canada said combined sales of cars and light trucks rose to 14,030 – the Toronto-based company sold 10,731 cars last month, up 23.3% from the year before, while truck sales, which include sport utility vehicles and minivans, were up 10.6% at 3,299.

Reuters said combined sales of General Motors of Canada cars and light trucks fell 7.8% in September to 43,085 from 46,749 for the same month a year earlier – GM sold 20,173 cars last month, down 18.4% from 24,713, while truck sales were up 4% at 22,912 from 22,036.

DaimlerChrysler Canada September sales fell 5.1% to 16,991 from 17,910, Reuters said, adding that the company sold 3,714 cars, down 19.9% from 4,637, while truck sales were flat at 13,277.

According to the report, Ford’s combined September sales in Canada dropped to 18,877, down 11% from 21,203 – Ford sold 13,930 trucks, down 3.5% from 14,442 and its car sales of 4,947 were down 26.8% from 6,761.

Bank of Nova Scotia economist Carlos Gomes reportedly said North American car makers will continue to see their market share pressured until they improve vehicle quality and change consumer perceptions of their products.

“The reality is that they (consumers) continue to see them as offering a product that is somewhat inferior to the importers,” Gomes told Reuters.

Reuters said domestic car makers should be helped by the fact that more than half their products will be redesigned by 2005, which will surpass the 33% rate expected by the Asian makers and 40% by the European manufacturers.