Dealers Voice: The Automobile Industry in 2019
The year in review
It has been my good fortune and honour to represent the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association (TADA) and its 1,100 member dealers as president for the past eight months.
I have been especially fortunate to serve in this capacity during one of the most robust and innovative eras in the automobile industry.
From design, engineering and manufacturing to marketing, sales and maintenance, the auto industry is advancing at a rapid pace, and it is fascinating to have a front-row seat as exciting new developments unfold.
In reviewing auto-related events in Canada over the past year, there are several worth noting and celebrating. Here they are, in no particular order:
• One of the big success stories from 2019 was the Canadian International AutoShow in February. Attendance records were set on four days, which included a single-day attendance record on the Sunday of the Family Day weekend.
Ticket sales for 2020’s AutoShow have been live for nearly two months and are up over 30 per cent, so an even bigger AutoShow is expected in the new year.
• Although the media often reports negative news about the automobile industry, 2019 was actually a good year. According to DesRosiers Automotive Consultants Inc., “average employment in the industry increased one percent between 2018 and 2019 as of the end of the third quarter.”
Employment in the auto manufacturing industry increased by 1.2 per cent from 2018 to 2019, and employment at auto dealerships increased by two per cent (employment at dealerships across Canada was 691,400).
• On the new-vehicle sales front, zero-emission sales have shown a significant rise in 2019. According to Electric Mobility Canada, this category now makes up 3.5 per cent of total new-car sales in Canada, representing a 25 per cent jump over the same period in 2018.
This rise in zero emission vehicle sales has coincided with Transport Canada’s introduction, in May, of a purchase incentive for these types of vehicles.
Another trend in new vehicle sales in 2019 was in the luxury category. In the first eight months of 2019, Lexus reported a 21 per cent increase, Volvo reported a 12 per cent gain and Acura reported a 10.7 percent gain, while BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Genesis and Lincoln also reported gains.
• Autonomous vehicles used to belong to the realm of science fiction, but today, many major automakers — including Ford, GM, Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, Volvo and BMW — are investing heavily in this technology.
In January 2019, the Ontario government updated its automated vehicle pilot program, and part of that update states that “automated vehicles equipped with SAE Level 3 technology that are available for public purchase in Canada can be driven on Ontario roads.”
Level 3 automation allows all aspects of driving to be automated, but a driver still needs to be at the wheel and ready to take control if necessary.
We are still years away from fully autonomous vehicles on our roads, but the government pilot program, coupled with the amount of investment and research by automakers, moves us closer to that day.
I expect that 2020 will be another exciting year for the automobile industry.
On behalf of the TADA, I would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year! Please drive safely.
Once again, the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association is proud to support Prostate Cancer Canada. This year, our association has donated two 2020 Toyota GR Supras — one in Nocturnal black and one in Renaissance red (valued at $152,000 together). The Rock the Road Raffle draw will take place at the 2020 Canadian International AutoShow. For ticket information, visit rocktheroadraffle.ca.
This column represents the views and values of the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association. Write to email@example.com or go to tada.ca. Cliff Lafreniere is president of the TADA and is president of Pinewood Park Motors (Ford) in Kirkland Lake. For information about automotive trends and careers, visit carsandjobs.com.