A recent study took a look at Canadian car-buying patterns, evolving preferences, and the resilience of consumers amid economic turbulence.
AutoTrader’s Automotive Trends Outlook sheds light on what Canadians are thinking about for their future vehicles and how the industry has changed over the last year for the years to come.
“Affordability is always an important consideration for vehicle shoppers, especially during these times,” said Jodi Lai, editor-in-chief at AutoTrader. “But when it comes to a milestone purchase as important as a vehicle, Canadians aren’t necessarily sacrificing spend. Although vehicle prices were higher this year, it didn’t stop shoppers from seeking aspirational vehicles, and while purchases skewed more practical, the emphasis wasn’t only on economical options, which could indicate prices aren’t as much of a deterrent as they were last year.”
The year of the truck
AutoTrader noted that 2023 has been a notable year for trucks in Canada. Despite the economic pressure and high gas prices in the previous year, Canadian consumers are increasingly interested in trucks.
For the first time since 2019, two trucks made it to the Top 10 Most Searched Vehicles List, indicating a shift towards a “bigger is better” mentality. With a 51% year-over-year increase in inventory, trucks are enjoying a surge in popularity this year.
Resilience of Canadian car buyers
Despite the hike in vehicle prices, Canadian consumers have shown remarkable resilience in their shopping behaviour. AutoTrader’s study revealed that 58% of Canadians positively rate their current financial situation and 45% believe their personal finances will improve.
This optimism is reflected in a 5% increase in visits to the AutoTrader marketplace compared to last year.
Growing new vehicle inventory
The inventory of new vehicles on AutoTrader has grown to 41% in 2023, up from 30% in 2022. This increase, resulting from normalized manufacturing levels, has started to balance out the interest in used vehicles.
Consequently, used vehicle prices have begun to decline since July, following an initial drop in inventory in the first quarter.
Electric vehicles interest dips but options grow
Following a spike in interest in 2022 due to high gas prices, EV purchase intentions have declined in 2023. Only 56% of non-EV owners are open to purchasing an EV, a decrease from 68% the previous year. Macroeconomic factors like vehicle prices, interest rates, and inflation are cited as primary concerns.
This comes as S&P Global Mobility reported that one out of every 10 new vehicles registered in Canada was battery-electric. Another 3 per cent were plug-in hybrids.
The EV inventory has seen a 146% increase in average weekly inventory year-over-year, with new models like the Kia EV9 and Volvo EX30 entering the market.