Ford and Chrysler are celebrating strong Canadian sales in September, with Ford marking its second best September on record.

Canadians drove 25,956 Ford Canada cars and trucks off the lot last  month, a 10 per cent year-over-year jump that is part of a rebound in auto sales.

Ford also has experienced a surge in truck sales, possibly at the expense of General Motors, which has not yet released Canadian sales figures, but suffered a sharp drop in U.S. sales in September. Ford said it sold 20,237 trucks last month, an 8.8 per cent increase from the 18,606 sold a year earlier.

Ford, which announced a major expansion of its Canadian auto plant last month, saw increased demand for its F-Series trucks, the Ford Fiesta and the fuel-saving Fusion.

Chrysler Canada said it sold 19,858 cars and light trucks in September, its best since 2000.

Chrysler has experienced 46 months of year-over-year growth, marking a distinct turnaround from the financial crisis of 2008 when it was forced into bankruptcy.

It said it broke sales records for its Ram trucks, Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200 sedans, and also saw an increase in sales of the Town and Country minivan.

Pent-up demand drives sales growth

Recovering car sales in Canada are being fuelled by low-interest car financing. A general growth of consumer optimism with improved jobs and economic outlook is helping.

Car sales are also an important driver of the improved U.S. economy, with sales rebounding in the past six months.

Analysts said there was pent-up demand for automobiles because Americans had been holding back on buying amid the economic uncertainty. As jobs growth picked up, many needed new vehicles to get to work.

September sales in the U.S. are not looking as good as August. But analysts say that may be because the Labour Day holiday, an important sales period, fell in August instead of September.

General Motors says its September U.S. sales dropped 11 per cent from a year ago to 188,000 cars and trucks.

Most of the decline was in truck sales, including the Chevy Silverado. down almost 11 per cent and the GMC Sierra, off two per cent. GM said it is redesigning these models and its dealers had a limited supply of full-size pickup trucks with the older design.

Ford, Chrysler strong in U.S. sales

But Ford bucked the trend, with its U.S. sales exceeding analyst expectations by hitting 185,186 vehicles in September, up 5.8 percent from the previous year. That puts it only 2,000 vehicles behind the largest U.S. carmaker — GM.

Chrysler said its U.S. sales were up one per cent at 143,017, its best September in six years.

Toyota's sales dropped 4.3 per cent to 164,457, Honda's declined 9.9 per cent to 105,563 and Nissan's fell 5.5 pe rcent to 86,868. All three companies missed analysts' expectations.