Aug 22, 2007

Intermediate passenger cars have lost favour with Canadian buyers, analyst says

Richmond Hill, Ontario – Intermediate cars, such as the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry and Chevrolet Impala, have undergone a dramatic decline in recent years, says industry analyst Dennis DesRosiers. While entry-level vehicles have increased their market share by 8.6 per cent from 1997 to 2006, and large/luxury/sport vehicles have increased by 2.3 per cent, midsize/family cars declined by 6.6 per cent during the same period.

“Former intermediate buyers have either downsized or traded up, hollowing out one of the market’s old standards of reliable sales,” DesRosiers says in a report. While he says that answers for the change are “not immediately forthcoming,” he believes that factors could include compacts becoming bigger, faster and better-equipped, fuel consumption, and the recent influx of crossover utility vehicles.

DesRosiers also says that “the greatest indicator of a segment’s waning popularity is when its institutional sales base – the daily rental fleet buyer – begins to alter its purchasing behaviour.” His figures show that during the first half of 2007, intermediate car fleet sales were down 24.7 per cent when compared to the same period in 2006, and that sales to fleets, including daily rentals, government and utility organizations, and corporate fleet programs accounted for just 31 per cent of intermediate sales during the first six months of 2007. “This represents a major hit for popular fleet vehicles like the Chevrolet Impala, and it functions as a time-delayed mirror for the developments that have occurred on the retail side of this industry over the past five years,” he says.

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