Category: Canada

By on January 4, 2019

2017 Chevrolet Sonic - Image: Chevrolet

As our previous story detailed, new car buyers are leaving the passenger car market in droves, so it’s not surprising to see automakers getting up and leaving the party. General Motors capped off 2018 by announcing its intention to drop six car models, leaving the fate of its remaining sedans and hatches in question.

North of the border, it seems a seventh model has disappeared before the other six even got a chance to get their coats and boots on. According to GM Authority, citing multiple sources familiar with GM’s operations, the Chevrolet Sonic’s life has come to an end in Canada. How long will it last in its home country of the United States? Read More >

By on October 23, 2018

FCA Brampton Assembly Line Challenger & 300 - Image: FCA

It took years, but Fiat Chrysler Automobiles finally unburdened itself from the weight of an unpaid loan by waiting until the government grew tired and gave up. Not that the automaker’s pursuer ever expected to recoup the cash.

It was revealed this week that Canada, which sunk nearly $14 billion into General Motors and Chrysler during the depths of the recession, quietly wrote off a $2.6 billion (CAD) loan made to Chrysler in 2009. It’s not the last bit of money owed to that country’s government by the two automakers, but it is a major outstanding chunk. In its defence, the feds didn’t have a hope in hell of getting the loan repaid, as the company that received it no longer exists. Read More >

By on October 1, 2018

FCA Brampton Assembly Line Challenger & 300 - Image: FCA

Following some furious 11th hour bargaining, Canada reached an agreement with U.S. trade negotiators Sunday night, marking the end of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the creation of its successor, the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. USMCA, for short.

While some of the finer details have yet to be released, the trilateral trade deal prevents the nightmare scenario of heavy tariffs levied on vehicles imported from Canada. To keep General Motors, Fiat Chrysler, Ford, Honda, and Toyota plants humming, officials in the Great White North reluctantly offered up some milk and cheese. Read More >

By on May 17, 2018

If you forgot today was the deadline for finalizing North American Free Trade negotiations, don’t worry, so did practically everyone else. In fact, the whole affair is starting to feel like that old car that’s been sitting in your friend’s yard for far too long. He keeps telling you he’s going to fix it up and make it better than new. “This is the summer,” he says. But you know he’s just going to keep mowing around it while it continues to rust and collect mice, so you’ve tried to push it out of your mind.

Like the restoration, the entire concept of a deadline for the trade deal is rather arbitrary at this point. NAFTA’s initial target date for an agreement between the three countries was March 31st, roughly one year after negotiations began. The May 17th deadline was claimed by U.S. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who said Congress had to be notified under the Trade Promotion Authority statute.

“We need to receive the notice of intent to sign soon in order to pass it this year,” explained Ryan’s office. “This is not a statutory deadline, but a timeline and calendar deadline.”

Basically, Congress wants to influence the president and NAFTA negotiators to conclude talks swiftly and reach an agreement before midterm elections. But Mexican officials warned everyone not to get their hopes up. “The possibility of having the entire negotiation done by Thursday isn’t easy, we don’t think it will happen by Thursday,” said Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo earlier this week.  Read More >

By on April 27, 2018

For a country that looks at its southern neighbor’s gasoline prices with lust and envy, you’d think small cars would make up a greater share of the vehicle mix. Well, they don’t. Canadians like their crossovers, pickups, and SUVs even more than Americans, and Ford’s future product lineup shows it.

It seems like just yesterday you could walk into a Ford dealer and check out a stingy and unsafe Aspire, before the hungry salesman upsold you on an Escort (or perhaps its sporty ZX2 sibling). Then there was the Contour, Taurus, and Crown Victoria to consider.

Those days are gone, and under Ford’s new truck-centric product plan, which ditches the Fiesta, Focus, Fusion, and Taurus, Canada won’t even get the crossover-ized Focus Active hatch. It’s a Mustang or nothing for small car lovers.

Apparently, we’ve made our bed and now need to lie in it. Read More >

By on February 24, 2018

Bentley Continental GT Supersports

After hitting it big with the Fab Four, George Harrison wrote the scathing song Taxman in protest of the British government’s “Super Tax” on high-income earners. At the time, the boys faced a 95 percent tax on their earnings (“There’s one for you, nineteen for me”), and Harrison reportedly did everything he could to offshore his wealth.

Britain’s dismal weather wasn’t the only reason rock musicians fled the country during this period.

In beautiful British Columbia, a mountain- and wine-filled area north of Seattle, the provincial government’s recent budget has some auto dealers steaming mad and worried their customers will hit the road in search of deal. The province’s New Democratic Party government, elected last year, plans to levy a 25 percent tax on the purchase of very high-end vehicles, with lesser models facing a 20-percent markup. However, many dealers wonder where the law of diminishing returns comes into play. Read More >

By on February 3, 2018

Image: Daimler AG

There’s more to living in Canada than just higher taxes, polar bear incursions, and brutally cold weather. For some reason, denizens of the Great White North are allowed to enjoy more choice at the bottom of the Mercedes-Benz model range.

For example, Americans can be forgiven if they weren’t aware of the B-Class Electric Drive, a low-volume EV hatchback that bit the dust late last year. MB sold just 744 of them in the U.S. in 2017. Meanwhile, Canadians can still walk into their local dealer and sign on for a 2018 B250, the conventional variant powered by the CLA-Class’ turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder.

The EV model never made its way north of the border, while the conventional model never made its way south of the 49th Parallel.

On Friday, the automaker pulled the wraps almost all of the way off its new A-Class — a more refined front-drive entry-level model making its first foray into the North American market. Designed to lure buyers who wouldn’t otherwise have considered the brand, the A-Class will spawn a five-door and sedan variant in Europe, while American buyers can expect only the four-door. And Canada? Well, the country that really hates choice in wireless carriers and dairy products somehow gets the five-door, too. Read More >

By on December 30, 2017

smart fire

Maybe it’s the Hoth-like climate and the urge to do anything in one’s power to warm it up, but Canada has so far taken a laid-back approach to the fires plaguing older Smart Fortwo models. A big part of the problem is that no one’s telling the country’s transportation regulator about them.

The models bursting into flames in the Great White North are of the same vintage as those which sparked an investigation by the United States’ National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. However, Transport Canada has yet to open a defect investigation of its own. Read More >

By on December 28, 2017

Jerry Dias, Unifor President, Image: OFL Communications Department (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

With everyone weighing in on the ultimate fate of the North American Free Trade Agreement, it almost seems as if we’re cataloging their bets to see just how right or wrong they’ll be in the negotiatory aftermath. Considering there has been such a limited amount of progress on the trade talks, there honestly isn’t much else to do.

Suggesting that NAFTA is “is going to blow up in 2018,” Jerry Dias, president of the Canadian union Unifor, has planted his flag on the side of a total breakdown of the agreement. Unifor represents 23,500 Detroit Three auto workers living north of the border, plus some 16,000 working in the supply chain.

As a union leader, Dias is prone to hyperbolic statements. However, his insight into the situation runs a little deeper than most. Read More >

By on October 12, 2017

cami assembly factory

Talks between General Motors and Canadian union Unifor seem to have broken down after the automaker mentioned it might wind down production of the Chevrolet Equinox at the striking CAMI Assembly plant in Ingersoll, Ontario. Negotiators explained to the union that the cost of continuing the month-long strike would mean losing more business to Mexico, which has already been filling Canadian production gaps since before the strike began.

GM currently builds the popular Equinox at three North American facilities: the CAMI plant, and two Mexican plants. With a shrinking 41-day supply of rolling stock at the end of last month, the facilities located south of the border can’t produce an equivalent volume to the Canadian worksite. However, GM suggests that could change if Unifor doesn’t throw in the towel soon. Read More >

By on October 11, 2017

2018 Audi Q5 - Image: AudiIn concert with the American auto industry, Canada’s auto industry reported an all-time record year of sales in 2016.

The difference? In Canada, 2016 represented the fourth consecutive year of record sales. Another difference? Canadian auto sales just kept on growing throughout 2017. Most recently, that streak of increases included an 8-percent year-over-year uptick in September 2017. Sales last month were 16-percent stronger than they typically are in September.

Month after month after month, Canada’s auto industry just keeps on smashing records. It’s as if the U.S. auto industry posted its banner year of 17.5 million sales in 2016 and then bettered that with 18.5 million sales in 2017. Read More >

By on September 26, 2017

2018 Mercedes-Benz C300 4Matic Wagon - Image: Mercedes-Benz CanadaIt took some doing.

Mercedes-Benz Canada first showed the wagon version of the fourth-generation C-Class 20 months ago at 2016’s Montreal Auto Show. All-wheel drive, a 2.1-liter diesel with 369 lb-ft of torque, and a profile deserving of all our praise was destined for Canadian showrooms despite Mercedes-Benz USA’s rejection of the wagon.

But there were hiccups. 13 months ago, we asked Mercedes-Benz about the C-Class Wagon’s arrival on this side of the Atlantic and received the following response: “We’re still waiting for certification.”

Mercedes-Benz never got the certification it desired, and diesel engines have disappeared from the automaker’s North American lineup. But by April 2017, we knew Mercedes-Benz had a new plan: the all-wheel drive would remain, but in place of the 2.1-liter diesel there’d be a 2.0-liter turbo C300 with 241 horsepower.

It’s finally here. And it’s still bound for America. Read More >

By on September 6, 2017

2017 Chevrolet Silverado - Image: ChevroletCanadian auto sales climbed to an all-time record high in 2013, jumping past the 1.7-million mark for the first time since 2002. The industry bettered that total in 2014, topped 2014’s total in 2015, and set a new record in 2016.

While U.S. auto sales continue to fall, sliding 2 percent in August and 3 percent through the first two-thirds of 2017, Canadian auto sales in August 2017 improved for a fourth consecutive month and the seventh month so far this year. Moreover, the improvements have been anything but modest. An 11-percent uptick in May was followed up by a 6-percent June increase, a 5-percent July increase, and a 7-percent August rise.

In fact, so strong are Canadian auto sales through the first two-thirds of 2017 that disaster would need to strike in the final four months of the year in order for 2017 not to be the best year ever for the Canadian auto industry.

Disaster appears unlikely. Read More >

By on August 29, 2017

Der neue Volkswagen T-Roc - Image: VolkswagenNot only is Volkswagen’s recently unveiled T-Roc subcompact crossover destined to avoid U.S. shores, Volkswagen’s Canadian dealers won’t be offering the T-Roc, either.

Revealed last week, we had always assumed the T-Roc was the logical next step for a Volkswagen brand that had suffered long and hard from a limited, delayed, premium SUV strategy in North America.

But it turns out Volkswagen of America will skip the T-Roc, likely in favor of a different small utility vehicle. So we asked Volkswagen Canada whether the T-Roc would arrive for the 2018 model year, the 2019 model year, or never at all.

Volkswagen’s response is the third option. “At least for now,” company spokesperson Thomas Tetzlaff tells TTAC.

Surely small-car-loving Canada — where the Honda Civic has been Canada’s top-selling car for 19 consecutive years and subcompact cars hold 19 percent more market share than they do in the U.S. — wants another subcompact crossover? Nah, not so much. Like Americans, Canadians haven’t fully latched onto the subcompact crossover, either. Not yet. Read More >

By on August 14, 2017

2018 Honda Odyssey Touring – Image: © Timothy CainIn the 2016 calendar year, the Honda Odyssey was Canada’s 41st-best-selling vehicle.

In the first half of 2017, as the fourth-generation Odyssey’s tenure came to an end, the Honda van plunged 11 positions to 52nd. Odyssey sales were down 18 percent, year-over-year. Odyssey volume was on track to fall to a five-year low. Hashtag minivans dead.

Then, descending from the top of Mount Fuji with a Soichiro-shaped halo, hosting enough seats for the entire Odyssey SCCA pit crew, declaring 30 more horses than the original Acura NSX, equipped with enough gears in its transmission for 2.5 copies of the Toyota Yaris, and speaking with just enough of an Alabama twang to be authentically North Americanized, the 2018 Honda Odyssey appeared.

Canadian sales of the Honda Odyssey consequently rose to the highest level in 15 years. And so shall it ever be. Read More >

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