Ten events that shaped the car industry in 2011
Published on Friday, 23 December 2011
Sandy Liguori - Tada President 2011-2012
Although the new car market improved slightly in 2011 (Canadian vehicle sales rose 1.8 per cent), with November being a particularly good month (sales rose 4.4 per cent), this year has been unpredictable at best.
There was exciting news from the auto industry. Auto shows in Tokyo, Frankfurt and Los Angeles highlighted new modes of transportation and the reinvention of the automobile in the years ahead.
But this news was punctuated by unfortunate events at home and abroad, from the lowering of consumer confidence in Canada and natural disasters in the Far East to the ongoing debt crisis in Europe and political unrest in the Middle East.
Here are 10 events that had a significant impact on the retail car market in 2011.
- The elimination in Toronto on Jan. 1 of the Personal Vehicle Tax ($60 for vehicles, $30 for motorcycles). It would be presumptuous to declare that the “war on cars” is over, but the removal of this unpopular tax was definitely a welcome relief for car owners.
- The Canadian International AutoShow in February. In terms of exhibitor participation and general attendance, this TADA-produced show was a resounding success and provided a tremendous boost for our industry.
- The devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan greatly affected the global car industry, with inventory shortages and supply chain disruptions. Manufacturers and suppliers that were impacted are only now returning to pre-disaster production levels.
- Social media/e-marketing. A handful of Canadian car dealers are experimenting with social media and e-marketing (Facebook, YouTube, electronic newsletters). But compared to dealers in the U.S., we are novices when it comes to utilizing these technologies to their full advantage.
- Alternative fuel technologies. Electric vehicles stole the spotlight this year (Nissan Leaf, Chevrolet Volt). But diesel cars continue to make impressive gains, thanks to new turbo injection technology, improved gas mileage and lower C02 emissions. Ethanol, flex-fuel, biodiesel and hydrogen are other alternative technologies that manufacturers have been experimenting with.
- On Nov.18, the TADA-sponsored TADA Gift of Life Wing officially opened at Ronald McDonald House Toronto, making this Ronald McDonald House the largest in the world. This level of community support set a new benchmark for the retail car industry in Canada.
- Low interest rates. The cost of borrowing remained at historic lows throughout 2011. On the plus side, low interest rates made car ownership more affordable for thousands of Canadians. Canadian banks are expected to hold rates low until the global economies improve.
- Provincial election. The Liberal Party under Dalton McGuinty is governing under a minority position for the first time. The Premier has indicated that he will continue to work with the auto industry and other stakeholders by providing much-needed investment dollars. His government has recognized that the 90,000 jobs that the auto sector supports in Ontario are worth fighting for.
- Lower consumer confidence. The Conference Board of Canada reported that consumer confidence fell 3.3 per cent in October (its lowest level since May 2009), and the Royal Bank of Canada has reported that Canadians are still worried about the economy and their financial situations. As a result, many Canadians have delayed purchasing large-ticket items, such as vehicles. This trend has kept many would-be car buyers out of showrooms.
- The used car market. Acquiring quality vehicles for resale is still a challenge for dealers. This shortage of used vehicles has driven prices up, making it a challenge to offer a used vehicle while remaining competitive in price or payment compared to a new vehicle, with all of the programs and incentives offered by the manufacturers.
On behalf of the TADA, I’d like to wish everyone a happy holiday season, and please drive safely.Your text will go here...
Go back to Editorials 2011 »