By on January 5, 2012

Canadians already bought the Honda Civic in droves, so it would make sense that another unloved car, the Fiat 500, would do well in a country that favors smaller, more European vehicles, right? Sort of.

Fiat did outsell both MINI and Scion in Canada this past year, but not by much. Accordingly to analyst Timothy Cain, Fiat ranked 27th out of 34 brands on sale in Canada, selling 5392 units. MINI was 28th with 5155 units and Scion was 29th with 4720 units.

The Fiat 500 is a common sight on the streets of Toronto, where being chic goes a long way. Despite the 500 selling in small volumes, the Dodge/Ram brand had a great showing in Canada overall, finishing behind Ford in second place (though Ford outsold Dodge/Ram by 100,152 units). Chrysler and Jeep sales were counted separately.

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50 Comments on “Fiat Outsells Mini, Scion In Canada...”


  • avatar
    Neb

    Canada likes small cars, though in this case I think the economy is also an important factor. Depression in America makes people conservative and risk-averse, even if they have the money to buy new.

  • avatar
    Contrarian

    The gas prices in Canada are driving lots of people to smaller cars than they would otherwise like. With diesel prices here in Canadia being comparable to gas, I don’t understand why there aren’t more TDs here. I guess the completely disfunctional energy policies of our neighbors to the south (“Hey let’s really punish diesel buyers for some reason”) probably yields such North american versions impractical from a profitability standpoint.

    • 0 avatar
      Neb

      Tis true, though I think I’d blame emissions standards more. When the giant market you are connected to seems hell-bent on making sure existing diesels overseas never come to market here, it’s difficult to see how they’d get to Canada.

    • 0 avatar
      Felix Hoenikker

      Its a combination of stricter emissions standards for diesel in the US vs Euope and high diesel prices in the US that keep down the demand for diesel engines in the US. The more stringent emission standards especially for particulates increase the cost of a diesel equipped car. Also, the 20-25% premium for diesel fuel vs regular gasoline effectively negates the efficiency advantage of a diesel engine.

    • 0 avatar
      johngalt

      If dysfunctional energy policies means not charging $5 a gallon is some places and well over $5 a gallon in others, let’s continue being dysfunctional.

      Canadian gasoline prices range from $5 a gallon at the low end to over $6 at the high. Canadians drive small cars because government taxes (roughly $1.60 per gallon) have forced their hand.

      • 0 avatar
        srogers

        Hence encouraging fuel conservation, leaving more oil in the ground for future generations (or to export for immediate gratification).

      • 0 avatar
        Sinistermisterman

        I don’t think fuel conservation is an option as a Chinese state owned oil company has just bought out one of the Athabasca oil sands companies. If this pipeline to the Pacific Ocean ever gets built, I see oil being sucked out of the ground at an even greater speed.

      • 0 avatar
        probert

        Of course that ignores the subsidy of huge military spending to protect supply lines, and the death of other peoples’ children in their defense. But you knew that.

      • 0 avatar
        carbiz

        Don’t confuse our American friends: The American gallon is 20% smaller than the Imperial. Therefore, in Toronto right now (1.20 a liter), that is ‘merely’ $4.80 a U.S. gallon.

  • avatar
    VanillaDude

    The reason Canada likes small cars is because it is such a small country. With low expectations. I hear they are really big Jennifer Lopez fans too.

    Ever been to Victoria BC? I can see these cars over there, you know, parked next to all those pretty little gardens filled with fountains, gnomes and people who act like they think they are in England. This car probably reminds those folks of their pretty little gardens. It would make for a great planter for some of those gardens.

    Ever been to Quebec City? I can see these cars over there too, you know, parked next to those ancient city walls filled with itty bitty little businesses tourists like to visit, selling hemp shirts and fresh poutine. The shops are filled with people who act like they are in France.

    Yeah – I can see this car selling well in Canada.

    Not in Thunder Bay, mind you – but those Old World-ish kind of places.

    Aren’t stereotypes handy?

    • 0 avatar
      Lynchenstein

      I live in Victoria, BC, and yes, there are quite a few of these little warts driving around, piloted by hipster dweebs in tweed jackets or old people in tweed caps.

      Oddly, you don’t see a lot of families driving around in them. They’re all in Civics.

      • 0 avatar
        srogers

        It’s not that odd.

        Most Canadians would think that it is too small to be a family vehicle. Do you realize that it’s 15″ shorter than a Yaris, or 22″ shorter than a Fit? Or using your example, it is 37″ shorter than a Civic. Apples to oranges.

        It also only has seating for 4.

      • 0 avatar
        Lynchenstein

        @srogers:

        Yes, I do realize the relative dimensions. I was trying to be humourous…and failing, obviously. TTAC lacks the winky-face emoticon feature, and the ability to nest comments more than a few deep which is why I’m replying to my own comment.

      • 0 avatar
        srogers

        Sorry, it was me being slow on the uptake. I get it now -the Civic is the me best selling car in Canada…

    • 0 avatar
      sfdennis1

      Honest to Jeebus, what exactly is so hard to understand about the appeal of a maneuverable, easy-to-park, economical car that can be chucked into corners and wrung out on the tach for fun?

      What the truck does that have to do with garden gnomes, low-expectations or ‘acting all Frenchy’ in stores? (Scratches head) Seriously, ya oughta share whatever it is you’re smoking, cuz it sounds more buzzworthy than anything I’ve had recently.

      More stereotypes? UGGHH, me thump on chest like gorilla, ME need BIG motor and sloppy handling…Me no like paark in yellow line space me no fit, me LOVE gas staaation and give money to Exxon. Me need F-350 Dually to go to mall every day by myself while yakking on cell-talk phone ‘cuz I ‘Merican.

      So that’s what a Canadian should think the average American is? Jeez, I hope not. Interesting cars for enthusiats come in different sizes and have different attributes. From little hatches, to Mopar muscle, Finned 50′s rides, Boxsters to Bonnevilles, to yeah, big hulking trucks.

      BTW, that Abarth 500 is HOT! Not intended for everyone’s garage, but anyone who can’t appreciate the appeal of a hot hatch is smoking some of your homemade stash.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    I assume that the Fiat is generally less expensive than the MINI, so, if a small fashion statement is your thing, a 500 is a cheaper way to get there.

    A Scion . . . what’s a “Scion”? ;-)

    @contrarian: Diesel fuel prices in metro Washington DC sometimes equal that of premium gasoline and exceed the price of regular. I suspect that the huge demand for diesel automotive fuel in Europe has something to do with this. While the mix of products which can be refined from a barrel of crude can be varied substantially, it’s not unlimited. So, the high European demand for diesel may have the effect of creating a relative “oversupply” of gasoline, hence the lower prices. It’s also worth mentioning that the energy density of diesel (by volume) is greater than that of gasoline, which partly accounts for the perceived fuel economy advantage of diesel engines.

    • 0 avatar
      TridentTrinity

      I have always wondered if anyone knows for sure what is the maximum amount of diesel you can get out of a barrel of oil? As per this link on gas buddy http://www.gasbuddy.com/crude_products.aspx , you can only get about half as much diesel as gasoline. This would mean that Europe can get away with using that much diesel only because we in the US don’t.

      But that gas buddy source might not be accounting properly for things like cracking etc. But from what I understand cracking is usually done with heavier hydrocarbons to get lighter ones. i.e. You can go from diesel/heavier fractions to gasoline. Does this mean the gas buddy source already accounts for this and you could get more diesel? Also notice that if it doesn’t then there isn’t that much of heavier fractions in a barrel to crack down to diesel.

      On the flip side, is there any cost effective technology to go the other way from gasoline to diesel (provided you expend some energy for doing it)? I know there are gas to liquid plants (GTL) that go from natural gas to gasoline etc. Could the same be done from gasoline to diesel? Moreover would it even be economical? GTL has other benefits like getting to an easier to use liquid fuel. But if the cost of converting gasoline to diesel means that the extra energy in diesel is washed out by the cost then what’s the point?

      Any petroleum engineers here who could enlighten us? It would be interesting to know if it is even theoretically possible for the US to use a lot more diesel? With Europe reaching near 50% diesel for passenger applications I don’t see how the US could do the same without some way of producing more diesel from the same amount of crude that we have access to.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        As per this link on gas buddy, you can only get about half as much diesel as gasoline.

        I am not a petroleum engineer, but I can tell you that those figures are typical of US refineries, which are skewed toward producing gasoline. Roughly one-third of a barrel of oil is comprised of gasoline, but oil can be cracked so that about half of the barrel is made into gas. However, those ratios can be changed a bit so that some gasoline elements are then used to produce diesel.

        With Europe reaching near 50% diesel for passenger applications

        Europe is importing refined diesel as it exports gasoline. Their refining mixes are skewed heavily toward diesel, and they can’t keep up. Copying the Europeans would be a very foolish idea.

        I take it that you are a diesel fan. You guys really need to stop evangelizing this stuff, and understand that MPG is not an efficiency measure.

        Diesel isn’t better, it just concentrates more energy into less space. If we bought our fuel by the pound, instead of by the liter or gallon, then you would see no notable difference.

        Both gas and diesel engines are highly inefficient. For both types of powerplants, most of their energy is lost to heat and is not used to produce power. Diesel engines are slightly more efficient because they run at higher compression and are more likely to use turbochargers (which indirectly increase efficiency by allowing the use of less powerful engines), but those gains are modest.

        Most of the MPG difference is due to the heavier weight of diesel fuel. A barrel of oil contains a given amount of energy, and gasoline spreads it out over a larger amount of liquid. Shifting production from one fuel type to the other doesn’t create energy out of thin air, it just reallocates it to a different source where it gets burned just the same. You might as well argue that a hot fudge sundae is more nutritious than a carrot, because the sundae contains more energy (calories) per ounce than a vegetable.

      • 0 avatar
        TridentTrinity

        @Pch101
        I take it that you are a diesel fan. You guys really need to stop evangelizing this stuff, and understand that MPG is not an efficiency measure.

        Au contraire, I am most definitely not a diesel fan. I am annoyed by the clatter/rattle of diesel engines at low rpm, which I personally still can hear in the new fangled modern diesel engines like the BMW 335d.

        My questions were more to find out if the US could ever be pushed more towards Diesels by policy like Europe has done. I guess it would be reassuring if it so happens that the US cannot do so since Europe is so heavily into diesel and if the US also goes on that path then diesel would become so expensive (due to demand/supply) that it would have no cost benefit.

        I appreciate the fact that in the US is closer to being a market economy where the true cost of diesel is reflected in fuel and engine costs as opposed to Europe where its purely policy based.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        I guess it would be reassuring if it so happens that the US cannot do so since Europe is so heavily into diesel and if the US also goes on that path then diesel would become so expensive (due to demand/supply) that it would have no cost benefit.

        If my understanding is correct, the costs of dramatically changing the gas/diesel ratio of a refinery’s output are considerable. While any given refinery has some degree of flexibility, it would not be cheap for American refiners to change their processes so that they match European ones.

        The money in the oil industry gets made in the upstream (exploration). The downstream (refining), in contrast, is a low margin business. Therefore, the incentive to spend money is on the upstream, not the downstream. I doubt that you have much to worry about here.

    • 0 avatar
      PenguinBoy

      “I assume that the Fiat is generally less expensive than the MINI…”

      Also newer (in this country) than the MINI, and if you are looking to make a fashion statement, new counts for a lot.

      That said, it sounds like a fun little car. A friend of mine who is a big BMW enthusiast (X5 & M3 owner) rented a Fiat 500 to go between Vancouver and Whistler, and said it was a blast to drive, albeit underpowered. He said he could even see picking up the Abarth version when it comes out.

      I was a bit surprised by this, as most of what I have read here on TTAC suggests that the handling is a good step down from the MINI.

      Regardless, it looks a lot more interesting than a Yaris and similar B class offerings. If they were available at all Dodge dealers I’ll bet they would sell more of them…

  • avatar
    gslippy

    As an annual visitor to Canada, it’s evident that Canadians like trucks, too. For me, this is proof that Americans’ taste for trucks is only temporarily stalled when gas prices increase.

    As for Fiat sales in Canada, it’s more a statement of how off-key Scion is, and how worn out the Mini brand is.

    • 0 avatar
      toomanycrayons

      I thought that the popularity of trucks varied with the number of guys trying to look busy instead of lonely. I didn’t see that gas price thing at all…

      • 0 avatar
        rpn453

        A lot of the population – in Western Canada, anyway – grew up on farms, with pickup trucks as the normal source of transportation until at least the end of high school. They like big trucks because it’s what they know. They also tend to have ties to gasoline-powered recreational activities like snowmobiling, quadding, and dirt-biking, and they derive pleasure from towing large trailers. Many get jobs where the enormous truck can be a benefit at times – such as oilfield work – even if not entirely necessary.

      • 0 avatar
        Neb

        ^^ That’s a rural Canadian thing, regardless of location. The town I grew up in has no farming, but is a paradise if you love the great outdoors. Thus, the most popular vehicle in town was the Ford Ranger.

  • avatar
    Oren Weizman

    Not that I doubt Chrysler’s numbers, but Mini has been on an absolute tear this year. The Fiat got through it’s first winter with just a few transmission issues. I wonder how things will look like once the Scion IQ gets in.

  • avatar
    stuntmonkey

    Or in other words, the Mini is no longer the must-have item for people who buy cars as fashion accessories.

  • avatar
    dachshund

    …The first thing I noticed is that there’s a Nissan S30 and an Alpine A610/GTA in that picture, so that’s a clue that I probably have nothing too important to say about the Fiat.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    Anybody know if Fiat is doing the $199/month, no down payment, no security deposit deal in Canada like they have in the US?

  • avatar
    Sinistermisterman

    I regularly see quite a few 500′s and Mini’s zipping around downtown Vancouver, however I probably see more modern F150′s than Fiat’s, Mini’s, Smarts and Scions combined. Canadians do love their trucks – even if they are only for intimidating other road users.

    • 0 avatar
      Andy D

      Yah that is my take on Ontario too. Lotta old type vans E150s etc, Fi50s . Not much difference in cars from NY. As you head toward Toronto,scenery gets to look different from NY. I cant say its European , Ive never been there.

  • avatar
    AJ

    I has having floor measurements done at my second house recently and the guy that was doing so showed up in a Fiat. He said it was perfect for his job as it had enough room for his equipment and the MPG was good. He liked it. I just wonder about how they handle in the winter, including in Canada?

  • avatar
    Joss

    Canada yawn zzzzz doesn’t have a car brand of its own. Four big fat yank would kill that thing. Keep the Fiat send us the water.

  • avatar
    daviel

    That’s a nice looking FIAT in red. Is it an Abarth?

  • avatar
    WriterParty.com

    Call me when Fiat shows up with the Panda and some other necessary models that are late to the US party. I’m a young dad with an infant, and at this stage a Panda would be perfect to trade in my ’06 Explorer for, while throwing a contrarian middle finger to the unwashed masses in their toyohondassanvroletstlers.

    • 0 avatar
      probert

      A honda fit might have your name on it. On the outside, granted, it’s a dweeb dream , but on the inside it’s like the Tardis – where did all that room come from? Pretty amazing – nothing else quite like it.

      • 0 avatar
        Advo

        Based on the previous model, I have to second that.

        If I was going strictly for value in Canada, I’d look at the Scion XD base model if you can get past the styling.

  • avatar
    stroker49

    Canada, US, Europe. So similar, yet so different! Here in Sweden the gas is 7,96 USD/gallon. Diesel is slightly more! Most new cars sold here in Europe are diesel. Because of the better mpg, plus all the torque is nice (remember 5,7l V8?). What still surprises me is that so many Americans drives trucks. I mean, they are great for carpenters, plumbers etcetera. A normal car is smoother quieter, better in all ways except when you need to haul a lot of goods. Two years ago I visited Denver, CO. Lots of trucks and they must have the same winters as here in Sweden. What do you do in the mornings, first shovel snow from your car park and stairs and then several square feet of F150 flat bed?

  • avatar
    Felis Concolor

    I’m not surprised my first thought upon viewing that photograph was “hm, looks like a Renault Alpine in the background.”


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