Over 820,000 cars and trucks were sold in Ontario last year (2016), almost doubling total motor vehicle sales in 1981. The chart below shows total annual motor vehicle sales since 1981.
In fact, 2017 appears like it could be another record year for motor vehicle sales, with the highest number of cars and trucks sold in the first 5 months of 2017, compared to first 5 months of previous years.
If you break up motor vehicle sales by the two categories offered by Statistics Canada, you notice that sales of passenger vehicles have stagnated since the 1990s, while truck sales have skyrocketed since the 1980s (see figure below). Trucks, as noted in the chart comprise minivans, SUVs, light and heavy trucks, vans and buses.
Growing motor vehicle sales should not be too surprising to anyone for a number of reasons –
- Ontario is after all, in North America
- The population of the province has grown considerably over the last decade. Some of the new residents are bound to be drivers
- The economy of the province has been performing well over the last decade, which means greater job availability, growing wages and stronger consumer confidence. This all translates into more auto sales
- Ontario is home to 5 major auto makers and over 7 car assembly plants (Fiat-Chrysler in Brampton and Windsor, Ford in Oakville, GM in Oshawa and Ingersoll, Honda in Markham and Alliston, and Toyota in Cambridge and Woodstock)
- The logistics and warehousing industry is a big and growing contributor to the Ontario economy (especially with the rise of e-commerce), which generates need for trucks
Why this is so fascinating is because major cities all around the world are at the moment starting to aggressively plan for and facilitate other forms of transportation – namely transit and active transportation (i.e., walking, cycling, rollerblading, etc.). Both the City of Toronto and the Province of Ontario are for example making unprecedented investments in transit, cycling and walking infrastructure. And this is exactly the direction cities should be going into. However, auto sales in Ontario have barely been affected by these initiatives (not to mention the impact autonomous and electric vehicles will have on the existing auto industry and of course, cities). This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – we should absolutely continue to make major (and growing) investments in transit and active transportation, but it is clearly evident that the auto industry is far from dead.