Cross-border swapping: Canadian and U.S. new car buying habits starting to blur
Hockey, poutine, strict gun controls, and universal healthcare—these are just four of the defining stereotypes of being Canadian, eh. And when it comes to buying new vehicles, we really like small cars, especially when compared to our football-obsessed, hot-dog eating, gun-toting, private-healthcare-paying, pickup truck-driving friends south of the border.
Right? Well, actually, not so much. In fact, Canadians—not Americans—have become big pickup buyers. And Americans, all of sudden, have fallen in love with small hatchbacks.The trend is so disturbing, we may need to setup a Royal Commission to look into officially swapping Canadian and American new car buyer stereotypes.
Here are the facts: For the first six months of 2011, of the 807,772 new vehicles sold in Canada this year, over 55 per cent have been trucks, SUVs or minivans—not passengers cars. The best-selling new vehicle in Canada is the Ford F Series, selling nearly two times the rate of the best-selling passenger car, the Honda Civic.
Now, overall pickup sales in the U.S. are up as well. But they aren't selling as well as anticipated, raising concerns with analysts about price wars and lower profits later in the year.
According to Ford of Canada’s Christine Hollander, those types of incentives are certainly helping to drive truck sales in Canada. Plus she thinks that the sluggish U.S. economy and the subsequent drop in personal disposable income is playing a factor as well.
“When Canadians need a truck, they get a truck. But in the U.S., the first thing to go when times are tough is the truck.”
Instead, American new car buyers seem to be turning to hatchbacks. A Detroit News report states that while “hatchbacks traditionally have been popular in Canada and Europe, [they] have not resonated well with American consumers.”
"The hatch was the vehicle for college kids with no money; and they were usually ugly [think Pinto, Gremlin and Chevette - JL]," said analyst Dave Sullivan of AutoPacific Inc. in the report.
About half the retail sales of the Ford Fiesta and 41 per cent of the new 2012 Ford Focus in the U.S. are hatchbacks. And data from WardsAuto.com shows the number of hatches sold in the U.S. increased by 63 per cent for the 2006-10 model years, from 291,853 to 475,048, while total car sales fell 23 percent in that period
Do you think this trend of national car buying stereotypes will continue between Canadian and American buyers?
Or are Americans just feeling the pinch of a tight economy?
[Sources: Ford Canada, DesRosiers & Associates; Automotive News, The Detroit News, WardsAuto.com]