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By Blair Qualey

As most people will appreciate, 2022 was a year in which many industries started their climb back from the COVID pandemic and the automotive sector was no different, facing a shortage of computer chips and subsequent supply chain issues.

And now, final 2023 year-end results reveal a positive return to form.

Our sector experienced an11.8% surge in new light vehicle sales in Canada, due in no small part to the continued dominance of light trucks, which account for a record 85.8% market share. The perennial champion, Ford’s F-Series trucks, showcased extraordinary numbers, selling 123,267 units in 2023 – a 7.4% increase from the previous year. This marks a staggeringly impressive 14th consecutive year as Canada’s top-selling vehicle. Not far behind was the RAM series of pickups, securing a solid second place with steady sales, while the Toyota RAV4 jumped a remarkable 33.6%, closing the gap at third place. The GM Sierra and Silverado pickups rounded out the top 5, boasting combined sales exceeding 112,000+ units. Canadians love their trucks, this much is clear. Andrew King, Managing Partner at DesRosiers Automotive Consultants (DAC), remarked on the ongoing trend favoring light trucks, emphasizing that even the best-selling passenger cars only achieved a fraction of the top trucks’ volume.

Following that, let’s take a look at the passenger car sector. The ever-popular Toyota Corolla held onto its lead with 28,260 units sold, with the Honda Civic not far behind. Another vehicle to note is the Mazda 3, which demonstrated a substantial 35.3% sales increase, securing fifth place in this category.

2023 was a strong year across the board in Canada, with the overall market witnessing a substantial increase of 175,000 units in 2023. Nearly every vehicle segment saw increased sales over 2022, especially the compact SUV — which maintained its status as Canada’s highest volume segment. Even the often-unpredictable luxury sports car segment recorded a 48.2% sales increase. Again, while the numbers are very positive, they need to be taken into context as they are being compared against a previous year in which there were ongoing challenges in the sector.

In British Columbia, one positive trend was the continued increase in zero emission vehicle adoption. As of December 31, 2023, British Columbia ZEVs representing an encouraging 22.91% of all new light-duty vehicle sales. Today, there are more than 145,000 ZEVs travelling BC’s roadways.

Of prime importance to New Car Dealers and their customers is the ongoing commitment to the Clean BC Go Electric Vehicle Rebate Program which we administer on behalf of the province and

makes ZEVs more affordable. In 2023, there were more than 22,500 processed rebates – an all-time high and compares to approximately 10,000 the year previous.

It’s clear that the automotive sector is making its return from the post-pandemic funk, and we know 2024 will be even more impressive.

For the latest vehicle models across most major brands, I hope that readers will attend the long-awaited return of the Vancouver International Auto Show, at the Vancouver Convention Centre from March 21-24, 2024. Featuring over 200 vehicles, including luxury supercars and the EV and PHEV Test Drive Experience, attendees will enjoy 200,000+ square feet of innovation, performance, and artistry. Read more here.

Blair Qualey is President and CEO of the New Car Dealers Association of BC. You can email him at [email protected]