Canadian Government Blocks U.S. Auto Imports

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

As we've reported, thousands of Canadian cars buyers have headed south of the border to save money on new and used cars. Several manufacturers have [belatedly] responded to the exodus by offering incentives that bring Canadian new car prices back in line with their American equivalent. But not all, and used car prices are still significantly lower. So the trade continues apace. Only now the Canadian government has stepped in and staunched the wound. The Toronto Globe and Mail reports that Transport Canada now refuses to license imported American cars until they're fitted with a Canada-compliant anti-theft immobilizer. Seriously. They're stopping vehicles at the border and/or allowing new car buyers to drive them home– and that's all. At least until the device is fitted and the car inspected (and Honda of Canada says they know of no legal aftermarket conversion). Transport Canada spokesman Patrick Charette moved to quash conspiracy theorists (that's us) by pointing out the new reg was announced two years ago. Mr. Hill ain't buying it. The Calgary financial consultant bought a 2008 Sienna in the U.S. last month, saving CA$15k. The vehicle is currently sitting on a dealer's lot 320 kilometers away from his driveway. "This is either collusion or unintended consequences." While dozens of frustrated buyers cry foul, the list of banned vehicles was broadened last week to include 2008 models manufactured after Sept. 1 and sold in the United States by Ford, Hyundai and Suzuki; all 2008 GM models, several Honda vehicles and about half of the Toyota Motor Corp. lineup.

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • Chanman Chanman on Nov 20, 2007

    One of the strangest cases has to be cars where the entire NA supply is made in Canadian plants - Lexus RX - I'm looking at you! - After all, in this case, it should be Canadian prices that are steady, and American ones that rise or fall with currency values.

  • Dean Dean on Nov 20, 2007

    What the hell is my government doing requiring anti-theft immobilizers on new cars anyway? Shouldn't that be left up to the market? Either the manufacturer adds it as a feature to add value, or the consumer can choose to buy an optional one, or buy from someone elsel, or buy none at all. Bastards.

  • Kevin Kevin on Nov 20, 2007

    What the crap do you Canadians expect? You want to have your own country up there with your own policies primarily all based on being Not-America, then you get pissed when things in Canada don't cost the same as things in the U.S. They SHOULDN'T cost the same; there is a reason they don't cost the same. Every government wants to control and buffer its economy. That's particularly important for Canada, since there is a vast border connecting Canada to a country that has 10 times its population. If there were wide open, uninhibited free trade between the US and Canada, then we hordes of Americans would completely hoover up anything in Canada that happens to be cheaper than in the U.S. (prescription drugs? Moose jerky?). There'd be nothing left for you. What happens when you throw the valve wide open on a high-pressure tank? So yes despite NAFTA, Canada is hellbent on erecting trade barriers wherever they can still get away with it; otherwise they'd lose their distinctive Canadian-ness. Think of the big picture. Everyone here is interested in cars, but what about everything else in the economy? Will one of you Canadians please tell me if you really expect every business in Canada to just drop their prices by 30% on everything just because of a currency exchange rate? Please if any Canadians actually expect that, please say so.

  • Tankd0g Tankd0g on Nov 21, 2007
    @wmba: can’t say that I agree with you… do you happen to recall a half dozen (or more?) years back when the Yanks were travelling to Canada to buy cheap cars? At that time where Canadians all being ripped off by the manufacturer? This myth has been perpetuated long enough! You'd have to go a lot further back than a few years to find a time when cars were chepaer in Canada than the USA. There may be a few exceptions, but the dollar would have to be at 60 cents US for most of the main stream cars to be on par and 30 or 40 cents US for the high end ones. All those Americans coming north saying they were buying a new car...they were getting liver transplants.