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Canadian auto dealers confirm sales record for 2013

Published April 25, 2014

The Toronto Star for Wheel.ca

Canadian car dealers enjoyed record sales in 2013, topping $90 billion for the first time ever.

According to the Canadian Automobile Dealers Association, the 3,300 new-car dealerships it represents sold 1.74 million vehicles last year, eclipsing the old record set in 2002.

That resulted in total revenue of $90.6 billion, a 6-per-cent increase over sales in 2012. It also continues a steady rise of 33.9 per cent over the sales crash of 2009.

The association sees this trend as a very strong indicator of Canada’s overall economic growth and increasing consumer confidence.

Hall of Fame kicks off spring

with a successful track day

Easter Monday couldn’t have provided better weather for the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame’s annual charity track day at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

I was excited to join Canadian racing legends Bill Brack and Ludwig Heimrath on the track, at the helm of a stunning new Jaguar F-Type V8S roadster.

More than 300 guests queued up to take a ride in supercars, such as an Audi R8, Porsche 911 Turbo, Corvettes, a fleet of Scion FR-S and even an MG TC that once belonged to Hamilton driver Tommy Hoan, who began racing the tiny car in 1950.

There were also 34 drivers who took part in the lapping day, with a surprisingly high number of first-time drivers.

Do you slow down and move over?

I was driving on the 401 earlier this week, in the left lane, when I approached a pair of work trucks.

I dutifully moved to the middle lane, as did the truck in front of me. Three other drivers actually moved into the left lane.

A few weeks ago, a long Facebook thread on a friend’s wall showed that a great many Ontario drivers have never heard of the law, which requires drivers to slow down and move over when passing emergency vehicles stopped at the side of the road with their lights flashing.

A bit of digging showed me that I did not fully understand the law myself, although I’ve been erring on the safe side.

In fact, the “Slow down, move over” law has been part of the Highway Traffic Act since 2003, according to Bob Nichols from the Ministry of Transportation.

However, I was mistaken: the law does not require drivers to slow down or move over for non-emergency vehicles, such as maintenance vehicles.

A proposed new law, called Keeping Ontario’s Roads Safe, would extend the move-over law to include tow trucks with their lights flashing.

In 2012, there were 1,064 drivers convicted under the move-over law, which carries a fine of $400 to $2,000, plus 3 demerit points. A second conviction within five years carries a fine of $1,000 to $4,000, possible jail time up to six months, and a possible licence suspension for up to two years.

Mercedes-Benz Financial one of Canada’s best workplaces

Ask anyone who works in the auto industry and, if they are being honest, they will tell you they have a love/hate relationship with their career path.

There are fantastic opportunities for career advancement for those who work hard, but the working environments aren’t always the most pleasant.

So it is great to hear that Mercedes-Benz Financial has been ranked as one of the Best Workplaces in Canada by an organization called the Great Place to Work Institute.

This is the third year in a row that the company has been recognized by the program.

Hyundai Canada President Steve Kelleher to retire

April 30 marks the end of an era for Hyundai Canada, as CEO Steve Kelleher is retiring after 28 years with the company.

Kelleher began his career at Ford of Canada before joining the fledgling automaker in 1986, working in the parts department. By 1995, he had become director of parts and service, and then vice-president of sales, marketing, parts and service. In 2002, he was named president and CEO.

Kelleher has seen massive changes during his time with the South Korean manufacturer, as sales have more than doubled and the brand has become a significant force in the Canadian market.

Current COO Donald Romano, who joined Hyundai in January, will take over the top job on May 1.

F1 marketing man to head Toronto auto show

While at the New York International Auto Show last week, I had the pleasure of meeting up with Jason Campbell, who has taken over the reins of the Canadian International Autoshow, following the retirement of long-time general manager Tom Tonks.

Campbell has been living overseas for the past couple of decades, as head of marketing for a range of Formula 1 teams, including Renault and Lotus, most recently overseeing global sponsorship for Red Bull Racing.

With that company’s reputation for creating spectacle, auto show fans can expect Campbell’s vision to revitalize the Toronto event.

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