There are two basic means by which you can get a grip on the evolution of Canada’s auto industry. First, there’s the size of the market. For just the second time in history, as a follow-up to a record year in 2017, Canadians may well acquire more than 2 million new vehicles in 2018.
Second, consider the degree to which traditional passenger cars have played an adversarial role in the market’s growth. Cars accounted for more than half of all Canadian new vehicle sales as recently as 2009, but cars form slightly less than 30 per cent of the market in 2018. With car demand collapsing, only three of Canada’s 10 most popular segments come from the passenger car sector. Those three segments combined for a 10-per-cent sales drop in Canada during the first 10 months of 2018.
If those segments are shrinking, which segments are rising? Five of Canada’s 10 most popular new vehicle segments are from the SUV/crossover side of the ledger, and sales in all but one of those categories are on the rise. That includes the subcompact crossover class, where volume has risen 38 per cent in 2018 year-over-year. It wasn’t that long ago that the subcompact crossover segment was basically nonexistent; now, it’s one of Canada’s largest segments.
This group of 10 segments clearly identifies the types of vehicles Canadians are buying and leasing — not just in terms of cars, trucks and SUVs, but more specifically. Identifying the specific borderlines of a segment is an activity that’s always up for debate — some vehicles, for example, live up to their “crossover” title by truly crossing over from one segment to another and back again. Regardless, these 10 segments represent the bulk of the industry’s volume, with over 80 per cent of all new vehicle sales stemming from these 10 classes.