* Chrysler replaces General Motors in second place
* Chrysler Canada says 2012 its best sales year since 2000
Ford Motor Co of Canada was the top-selling automaker in Canada for the third year in a row in 2012 but Chrysler, boosted by demand for its fuel-efficient passenger cars, knocked General Motors from the No. 2 perch.
Ford said on Thursday it sold 276,068 vehicles in Canada last year, just 90 more than it sold in 2011. Its popular line-up of F-Series trucks made up more than 100,000 of the sales.
In December, however, Ford's vehicle sales slipped 13 percent to 16,874.
Meanwhile, Chrysler Canada said its vehicle sales rose 6 percent to 243,845, making it to the No. 2 position in Canadian sales last year from third place in 2011. GM Canada is due to release its sales data later on Thursday.
Reid Bigland, president and chief executive of Chrysler Canada, said the company had its best retail sales results last year since 2000.
"Our investment in fuel-efficient new vehicles and power trains has propelled us to be the number two seller," Bigland said, forecasting continued strong sales in 2013.
Dianne Craig, president and CEO at Ford of Canada, also said the company was optimistic about growth.
Passenger car sales increased 33 percent in 2012, Chrysler said. For the month of December, sales at Chrysler Canada, which includes its Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Fiat and Ram models, rose 1 percent to 14,756 vehicles.
Chrysler Canada is wholly owned by Chrysler Group LLC, which in turn is controlled by Italy's Fiat SpA .
In the United States, Detroit's automakers showed December U.S. sales gains of 5 percent, slightly better than analysts' expectations, but likely not enough to stave off market-share gains by Japanese rivals.