By on November 3, 2010

The Vancouver Sun reports that pretty much, across the board and across the border, Canadian sales rose. GM’s sale rose 11 percent year on year, Ford’s sales rose 8 percent and is now within a whisker of taking the number one slot from General Motors. Honda’s sales grew 14 percent. As did Nissan’s at 4.5 percent. And Hyundai-Kia who reports rises of 8.6 percent and 17 percent, respectively. Even the smaller players had reasons to celebrate. VW went up 21.5 percent. Mitsubishi has a stonkingly good month with sales rising, YOY, by 27.2 percent. Even Volvo’s sales grew 13.9 percent. Yep. Life is good, north of the border. Except for one.

The world’s largest car maker, Toyota, saw sales decline 22.7 percent. Over the year of 2010, Toyota Canada’s sales have dropped 12.4 percent to 150,119 units. This is bad news for ToMoCo. But wait, there’s less!  What made this sales decline even worse was the fact that Toyota had just introduced their youth brand, Scion, to Canada in a bid to breathe life into their Canadian subsidiary. In its first full month of sales, Scion could only clock up sales of 247 units over a dealership network of 46. If Toyota has a secret weapon to boost sales, they might want to think about activating it sometime soon.

And while we are at it: Toyota’s sales dropped in another country also. Starts with a C also. But is a bit bigger than Canada: China. Toyota sales in China fell 6.0 percent in October to 61,600 vehicles, marking the first year-on-year decline in 18 months. That hurts.

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42 Comments on “Things Get Chilly In The Great White North. For One Car Maker...”

  • avatar
    blue adidas

    Frankly, their such rotten cars, I’m surprised Toyota sells well anywhere. But I am surprised at such a huge decline.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree.  Everyone I know who has had one has had nothing but trouble.  The reliability is definitely overrated.  Their biggest problem IMO is that their entire line up is less interesting than the Lawrence Welk show.  Their dealerships attract more senior citizens than a Sears Red Tag sale without even the slightest whif of sportiness.

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      Snoozemobiles, with mediocre build quality = poor sales.

  • avatar

    Their = possession
    They’re = they are
    There = location

    The Toyotas in my immediate family have been excellent… and they use proper grammar.

  • avatar

    The Scion brand has become irrelevant; if Toyota wanted to sell any in Canada, they would have introduced Scion there in 2004 when they had more interesting cars to sell.

    • 0 avatar

      This is very true.  Scion was tailor-made for (eastern/central) Canada and would have sold very well.  The Echo hatch, which we did get but the US didn’t, might have had something to do with it.

  • avatar

    Maybe Toyotas were excellent at one time. Like my Land Cruiser. Oh wait. The hood and grille paint disintegrated after one Canadian winter. I almost froze to death in it because it was delivered to me with water in the gas tank.
    I think I’ll take a spin down to my local Toyota dealer and see if their salesmen are as supercilious and arrogant as they were the last time I was there. Too bad the franchise owner sank millions into his fancy new digs. I truly feel sorry for him. He was one of the first Toyota dealers in NA.
    Yonge-Steeles Ford, about three miles away, operates out of a dump and it’s now number two or three in North American sales.
    Oh, did I mention that my 2000 Crown Vic soldiers on?
    Is my spelling OK?

  • avatar

    The reputation hit was certainly part of it.
    The other is that Toyota’s bread-and-butters (Camry, Highlander) don’t sell as well here, while the smaller cars do.  And that’s the problem: Toyota’s two Canadian heavy-hitters, the Yaris and Corolla, aren’t especially competitive but are relatively expensive.
    It’s important to understand that the Canadian market is a bit more like Europe than the US**: the top sellers, perenially, have been the Dodge Caravan and either the Civic or Corolla (compare this to the US, where it’s F-150 and Camry), and the Corolla has dropped off the radar, relatively speaking.
    There are a lot of good, small cars taking chunks out of Toyota: the Elantra, 3 and Versa come to mind, and I suspect the Cruze and Focus won’t help.  Scion sales probably will pick up and do better than the US, but Toyota needs a better Corolla yesterday,
    ** On that note, Mazda does obscenely well in Canada: the Mazda 3 can close in on #3 and has nipped the Civic.  In the US the 3 is nowhere to be found.   Over here, the Mazda 5 sells exceedingly well, in the US it’s a rental queen.

    • 0 avatar

      You sir have not been out to Alberta lately, have you?  Walked out of the airport in Calgary and literally thought I was in Dallas by the amount of jacked up smoke belching diesel pickups.  Big Ford’s, Chevy and Dodge rule around there in numbers I haven’t seen anywhere in the states…yes…even Texas. 

      Even as far east as Manitobia I wouldn’t say I’ve seen a majority of vehicles in the Civic/Corolla class.  Then again, doesn’t 90% of Canada live in and around Toronto?  There (and Vancouver) the small cars do seem more common, but still nothing comparable to Europe. 

    • 0 avatar


      This is it; making sweeping assumptions about the Canadian market is as tough as making them about the States.  The western Canadian (including Yukon and NW Territories) market is vastly different than the central/eastern.  The resource sector (oil, gas, uranium, potash, diamonds, you name it), is powering the west while the central/eastern part is suffering many of the effects of the cratering manufacturing sector seen in the midwestern U.S.

      Here in Saskatchewan, the unemployment rate barely peeks above 5%, while some of the hardest hit parts of Ontario are well into the double digits. 

      Not picking on my fellow Canadians out there, just pointing out the difference in a country as vast as this one.

    • 0 avatar

      In the original version of one of these posts I had slipped “central/eastern Canada” in there somewhere, I think when talking about Scion. Must have pulled it later.
      That said, most Canadians live in or around four or five cities, so yes, urban buying patterns apply.  This isn’t a distortion; it’s the truth.  Canada is an urban nation, and a single suburb of Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary or Montreal probably buys more cars than certain provinces or territories do.  It’s like Americans complaining that CARB states have an unfair say in product mix.  It’s not unfair: CARB states buy more cars.
      I do spend time travelling and time spent in the US and cars are generally smaller here, even in terms of trucks.  You’ll see more compacts and less super-duties**, more (when they offered them) short-wheelbase minivans, more compact crossovers than big ones.  And yes, more Corollas than Camries.  Even in the wee little city I live in now (north-east of Peterborough) you can see the small car effect.
      ** Calgary is a little different, but not for long: I expect that in a few years you’ll see those Super Duties changed out for MLs and X5s as it gets more gentrified.

    • 0 avatar

      In the original version of one of these posts I had slipped “central/eastern Canada” in there somewhere, I think when talking about Scion. Must have pulled it later.

      Oh no, your ninja edits aren’t gettin’ by me, bub.  No siree.

    • 0 avatar

      I seem to recall you saying that Toyota wouldn’t feel any long-term effects from the pedal-gate flap.  What say you now?  It seems that Toyota’s taken a hit in sales volume, transaction price, and customer sat since they were shown to be just another imperfect car company over the summer.

  • avatar

    And while we are at it: Toyota’s sales dropped in another country also. Starts with a C also. But is a bit bigger than Canada: China

    In geographic terms, Canada is bigger than China.  In terms of people, though, I think Beijing alone has nearly as many people as the whole country.

    Oh, and it’s always a good time for Bob & Doug.  Thanks for that.

  • avatar

    If I was to guess I would say, not enough incentives,may explain the Toyota drop. The radio and TV ads for GM, Hyundai, Mazda and Ford are talking big savings. Maybe Toyota thinks they can sell on product alone.  Big mistake IMHO

    @Cammy that would be Bob and Doug Mackenzie circa 1983?. We dumped the “stubby” beer bottles about a year later. The green parka, and a Kenora dinner jacket? Thats mandatory wear. I own about three of them. Did you know,you can carry two beers and a pair of gloves in the pockets. Too bad my wife won’t let me leave the property while wearing them.
    @ Quentin  If you plan to be the grammar police,….arrest me now, I promise to plead guilty.

    • 0 avatar

      You know, I’ve never heard the term “Kenora Dinner Jacket”.

    • 0 avatar

      @ Psar…..Actually a true” Kenora Dinner Jacket” should be quilted.

    • 0 avatar

      If you are going to say something is rubbish, you should use proper grammar.  It was my snarky way of disagreeing with him. 

    • 0 avatar

      Having spent a month in Kenora I’ll completely understand.
      Oh, and I think you can still get stubbies in Red Stripe, though if you’re wearing the jacket it’s probably the Crown Royal/Canadian Club time of the year.

    • 0 avatar


      We call that look “Hoser Chic”.

      The Kenora Dinner Jacket, or as we call it a “Surrey Sports Coat”, or if it’s lined, “Eskimo Evening Wear”. Along with rubber boots and my Corona cowboy hat it’s our mandatory fishing outfit.

      I’m also not allowed to wear my sweat pants or Surrey Sport Coat past the end of the driveway.

      Local Toyota dealers are some of the most arrogant and condescending dealers in Western Canada – perhaps their attitude also has an affect on the dwindling sales totals.

    • 0 avatar


      Sadly, I’ve had to advise my mother against the rapacious service department at the Toyota dealer in Medicine Hat.  Arrogant and condescending about sums it up, although they did go 50/50 on some just-out-of-warranty work on a faulty HVAC control.  I did not expect that!

  • avatar

    They’ve had it coming for a good long time, their dealers here are rivaling Mercedes dealers for thoughtless, expensive service. The media furore just pushed them over the edge.

  • avatar

    Somehow I am not very concerned for Toyota. Unlike the U.S or Europe, Toyota (and Honda) are very popular here, and both command a lot of respect from buyers. Whereas Ford, GM and Chrysler sell predominantly on price alone, Toyota has always been here the wise and respectable choice.

    Canadians have always been frugal buyers – the most popular cars are among the cheapest.

    I believe part of the problem is that a spat of new cars have come that are exciting in design and features, especially from Hyundai which is becoming a Canadian favourite, while Toyota still has the relatively stale product line. The last refresh of the Corolla, the most popular Toyota here, is barely different from the car introduced 10 years ago. I suspect the AMERICAN-led Toyota-gate style affair is not the main factor here – if Toyota introduced an exiting new Corolla and Camry, sales would quickly go up. Coupled with that are dealers that still think they have the upper-hand with customers and do not budge much on price.

    In my view, product is the main culprit here for falling sales.

    As to China, it would be interesting to note how other Japanese manufacturers did. i.e. Honda. I wonder with the recent tensions of the Chinese government with Japan over the Sankaku islands may have led to anti-Japan sentiment in a population that is very nationalistic and easily aroused by propaganda.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Toyota is really loosing the plot. The competitive landscape keeps getting tougher and tougher, and Toyota isn’t keeping up.

  • avatar

    Toyota’s been dropping in Canada for a while now; Honda was too, until these latest figures came out (incentives?)  Toyota is down 12.8% for the year.

    Speaking of Honda, it was at risk of having its upright H substituted for a crooked H in yearly sales.  It seems as though a perennial Canadian favourite will keep ahead of the Korean interloper for 2010.  Honda is still down 1% for the year; coming off a tough 2009 pretty much everyone should be up, in theory.

    Now, if you add Kia sales to the mix, that’s a different story…

  • avatar

    It is only going to get worse next year for Toyota.
    The top selling cars in Canada are Civic/Corolla/Mazda 3. IOW compacts.
    Next year will have new Focus, new Elantra?, new Civic, Corolla is going to sink.

    I don’t think Honda would be doing much better, if not for the massive subsidies I see advertised on TV in the latest months. I don’t ever remember them doing that before.

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    Toyota. Bitch-slapped by karma. But I don’t feel sorry for them: As a company, they’ve stacked up more cheddar than everyone but God and Microsoft….

  • avatar

    Another (smaller) problem for Toyota is that they are not number 1 in Canada in luxury car sales.  (BMW is.)  Almost makes me proud to be a Canadian………………..

  • avatar

    From an entirely subjective point of view looking out of my office window in Downtown Vancouver I see plenty of cars going past every day, and I can honestly say that in the past few weeks I have seen all of TWO new Scions, an xB and a tC. Considering that there are large numbers of young, affluent and *ahem* ‘stylish’ people in Vancouver, I expected to see far more Scion’s running around town – TBH I’ve probably seen more Juke’s.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Hard to feel badly for Toyota. It “bean counted” the cars to death. Toyota attributes were reliability, durability and resale value. With those qualities doubtful there’s little to attract buyers. Hubris will bite you in the butt every time!

  • avatar

    I was shopping minivans in September.  I looked at the new 2011 Sienna and the 2010 Odyssey and went with the Odyssey…Honda was offering $6000 off, and the Sienna seems to be afflicted with Toyota’s cheapo interior construction all their models have been displaying over the last few years.  Since the Sienna’s all new, they’re offering nothing in incentives.
    I did sit down in an LS400L at the adjoined Lexus dealer…they need to bring a little more of that to their downmarket lineup.

  • avatar

    I live north of Toronto, and in my travels I probably see thousands of cars per day.  And I have never seen a new Scion around here.  Honestly, given how few I’ve seen I thought they hadn’t got round to launching that brand.
    If they are going to try and hit the Canadian market, methinks they are in trouble.  The main reason?  The Kia Forte…I see droves of these.
    As for Mitsubishi…well I’ll be damned.

  • avatar

    v65magnafan1, we must practically be neighbours.  Ah yes, the Landcruiser…friends of mine in BC (i.e., no salty roads) had two of these and the worst North American 70s clunker never rusted that fast.
    That Ford dealership at Yonge and Steeles is weird…it went tango uniform (the cars were repossessed at night), then was vacant, then was open again.  They are doing well?  That’s a surprise.
    Yes, that Toyota dealership REALLY splashed out.  (Never understood why dealerships need to look like shopping centres now.)  A Kia franchise might have been a better investment.

    • 0 avatar

      No salt in BC? Where did you get that idea? It’s about all thats used in the lower mainland and the Island, and if the temp is above -5C it’s used everywhere else in the province. We don’t see as much as the East certainly, but believe me it is and always has been used here.
       Anyone with a collector car or expensive ride they want to preserve is well advised to park it for the winter and get a beater car. BC really is tough on vehicles in the winter because when it’s cold the roads are heavily sanded which does a nice job of sandblasting your vehicle. Then when it warms up here comes the salt to get rid of compact snow and ice.
       That said, yeah the landcruiser was one of those vehicles that rusted so fast you could almost hear it happen. Which is too bad because they were great in the snow.
      And has it really been 25 years since stubby beer bottles went away?

  • avatar

    Glad to see Mitsubishi doing so well. It’s about damn time they got some recognition for their good cars, their image of the “bad japanese car” or “proof japan’s quality is a myth” was never really deserved, despite the cars being more reliable than both their European and US counterparts.

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