Auto Service World
News   August 16, 2022   by Adam Malik

Are Canadians actually driving more today?

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A new report casts doubt on the idea that Canadians are back to pre-pandemic driving levels. But there are no alarm bells ringing, either.

That’s because, despite rising gas prices, Canadians are still driving — and that’s good news for the automotive aftermarket.

How much Canadians drive is a key statistic for the aftermarket as it signals consumer activity in several categories. DesRosiers Automotive Consultants noted that it doesn’t buy into the findings of mobility data that showed the second half of 2021 saw Canadians driving more in line with pre-pandemic 2019 numbers.

When the consultancy speaks with industry partners and looks at gas consumption data, it feels different, it said in an announcement.

“Even when factoring in increasing ZEV counts and the improved fuel economy of the fleet, we can’t build a case that kilometres driven in the second half of 2021 were significantly ahead of 2019 — as speculated by some non-automotive players,” it said.

It also noted a drop in gasoline consumption in the first quarter of this year when gas prices jumped dramatically.

“Kilometres driven has shown remarkable resilience in Canada throughout the past 2 years,” said Andrew King, DesRosiers’ managing partner. “Recent gas price increases have undoubtedly impacted that dynamic, but the relative inelasticity of demand and continued use of vehicles means kilometres driven are unlikely to fall dramatically and will provide support for the aftermarket in the coming months.”

During the Automotive Industries Association of Canada’s Annual General Meeting, Niel Hiscox, president of Universus Media Group Inc., said he didn’t think there will be any change to driving habits and that the trend of increasing kilometres travelled coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic will only continue.

“That notion of persisting for the long term is really important because there’s actually a lot of research out there that says, in fact, that kilometres driven, is actually quite inelastic, relative to gas prices, and that in fact changes in gas prices don’t impact miles driven that much,” he said.

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