If you’re trying to sell a car – any car – in Canada, good luck. A truck of some sort? No problem. Given the cost of fuel in Canada, this makes no economic sense. Put all the pieces together, however, and you will find a very clear message for politicians.
Let’s start with sales. Year-to-date data from DesRosiers Automotive Consultants paints a discouraging picture for cars. Some of the most popular models of the past decade suffered double-digit declines through the end of May: Toyota Corolla, -11.7%; Hyundai Elantra -15.2%; Kia Forte -13.6%. Passenger car sales are down 9.2% overall this year.
Meantime, light truck sales continue to strengthen, up 4.6 per cent this year. It’s interesting to see what sorts of trucks Canadians are buying in the greatest numbers, too.
Essentially, you can divide Canadian truck-buying habits into two main camps: large pickup and small utility. Year-to-date, Canadians bought 153,497 rigs like Ford’s F-Series and Chevrolet’s Silverado, while sales of compact SUVs (sport-utility vehicles) hit 183,527. We do love wagons like Toyota’s RAV4 and Honda’s CR-V.
Total truck sales in that period: 588,293. So, of all the light trucks sold in Canada, 57% were big pickups and smallish rigs.
Trucks, of course, are not particularly fuel efficient. Meantime, pump prices are a big issue in Canada. So big, the Conservatives in Ontario rode to victory on the promise of lower fuel prices. And indeed, the Ford Government has scrapped EV subsidies and the cap and trade program that paid for them.
Then there’s British Columbia, where the carbon tax hits vehicle owners hard at the pump – to the tune of some $1.2 billion in annual extra revenue for the provincial government, reports The National Post.
As the Post notes, the carbon tax “adds approximately 8.55 cents per litre of gasoline with the GST tacked onto it, and 10.06 cents per litre for diesel with the GST. To fill up an average Toyota Camry with a 70-litre fuel tank costs $6 in carbon tax. A Dodge Ram pick-up truck costs more than $10 in carbon tax and a Ford Super Duty Diesel costs more than $17 per fill up.”
So far, British Columbians seem willing to suffer the cost of the carbon tax; they elected an NDP/Green hybrid government in the last election. No Doug Fords for B.C., yet.
But read the tea leaves. Canadians are guzzling gas guzzlers at a record clip, while bemoaning the high price of filling them up. The promise of cheap gas, in fact, helped elect Doug Ford’s Conservatives in Ontario. All the while, some very good and highly fuel-efficient cars are languishing on dealer lots, unloved and unwanted.
If I were running for provincial or federal office in an upcoming election, I would note that Canadians have a love affair going with trucks. I’d also think long and hard about the government that voters elected in Canada’s largest province.
A federal carbon tax is going to be a very tough sell in the next national election.