With almost 130 billion km travelled in the third quarter of 2021, Canadians are moving around at rates higher than before the global COVID-19 pandemic started.
The previous high over the last two years was during the same time in 2019 at 126 billion kilometres, according to data captured by StreetLight Data and recently released by the Automotive Industries Association of Canada in the quarterly report National Vehicle Kilometres Traveled Metrics – 2019 To 2021. The third quarter — from July to September — of 2020 came in at just over 116 billion kilometres, which was the high-water mark of that year.
In the report’s commentary, it was noted that the figure of 130 billion km represented something of a return to normalcy for Canadians when comparing data to previous quarters.
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“Canadians enthusiastically resumed their pre-pandemic levels of road travel this summer, reflecting their collective desire to break free from pandemic isolation and confidence in the strong vaccination levels across the country,” the report said.
The jump from 126 billion km to 130 billion km represents a significant jump, it added.
“The pendulum may have swung further than usual this quarter as Canadians eagerly celebrated the possibility of a post-pandemic world,” the report observed.
The average daily kilometres travelled also hit an 11-quarter high of 1.4 billion km from July to September of 2021.
And not all of the travel recorded appears to leisure, the report noted. The increase in travel “mirrored” an increase in business confidence that was seen across Canada.
“This increase in business confidence led some Canadian employees and companies to resume pre-pandemic commuting and driving patterns,” the report said.
Of course, this is good news for the automotive aftermarket. People are driving more and when combined with the new vehicle shortage and boost in used vehicle sales, the future looks bright.
“The increased number of older vehicles on the roads will require more replacement parts and with increased usage, durability issues should positively impact the industry’s bottom line,” the report said.
With the Omicron variant, however, the question on everyone’s mind is what impact will COVID-19 have on how things trend forward.
“Canadians are eager to resume aspects of their pre-pandemic lives but uncertainty remains,” the report said. “Will strong vaccination levels across the country protect against new lockdowns and restrictions, and keep us behind the wheel? Our fingers are crossed.”