Constrained supplies and heavy demand mean there’s never been a tougher time to buy a new car. Let’s say you’re in the market for that hot new off-roader, the Ford Bronco. Bad news if you want one with a moulded-in-colour hardtop, as Ford has just announced a further delay to production of those models. Even if you’ve reserved a Bronco, some vehicles won’t be built until December of this year, as 2022 models. It’s one of the most in-demand vehicles in the current market.
On the whole, it must be a bit annoying to be a Ford dealer right now. The company has compelling products on the way – more than 120,000 people have reserved the electric F-150 Lightning – but the semiconductor chip shortage is hitting Ford’s supply line hard. “Take my money,” customers yell. “Wish we could,” respond the dealers.
Because of the constraints to the supply chain, it can be hard to tell which vehicles are most wanted in Canada. Some nameplates are still putting up solid sales figures. Some, like the Bronco, have customers filling up waiting lists, but you won’t see too many of them on the road.
The supply problem is exacerbated by consumer demand. Cooped up at home, many Canadians put off replacing their cars in 2020. Now, with a bit of extra money put aside from enforced staycations, and with trade-in values higher than ever, what better time to pick out a shiny new ride?
Figuring out which vehicles Canadians are clamouring for isn’t as easy as just checking the bestseller list. Here, the usual family-friendly suspects show up: The Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V and Nissan Rogue all made the top-10 bestselling vehicles list in Canada for the first six months of the year.
What that list doesn’t show is how long you’ll need to wait for something like a RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV). It’s an excellent all-round vehicle, albeit at a considerable premium over the standard RAV4, but the waiting list for them stretches out for more than a year.
Over at Hyundai Canada, a 2020 push for greater allocation of global production of the Kona EV seems prescient.
According to Justin Misenas, general manager of OpenRoad Hyundai in Richmond, B.C., the Kona EV is one of the top-three best-selling Hyundais in August. He notes that the Tucson and Palisade are also doing well, with customers willing to wait for the hybrid versions of the former.
Another Hyundai that Misenas frequently gets asked about is the upcoming Ioniq 5. This EV could be a very strong player for Hyundai in coming years, with solid range, impressive design and an interior big enough to meet the needs of a small family.
In the luxury market, customers are often willing to wait a little longer to get exactly what they want. Over at Mercedes-Benz Surrey, general manager Mahmood Mawji says that both the G-class and the GLS-class are in high demand, with lengthy waiting lists. Many models are already spoken for before they reach the lot, Mawji says, noting that the dealership has sold every single Sprinter van that it received this year.
At Brian Jessel BMW in Vancouver, long a sales leader for BMW Canada, plug-in hybrids are attracting the most attention. Models such as the 3 Series 330e and X5 XDrive 45e were top sellers this year, according to Business Development Analyst Susanna Chan, and customers are willing to wait for the PHEVs rather than take a lesser trim. The same is true for BMW’s M models.
Subaru is another automaker continuing to hold momentum. If you think you’ve been seeing a lot of Crosstreks on the road, you’re not imagining it. Crosstrek sales last month nearly doubled compared with the same time last year, according to the company’s sales figure releases. However, our family purchased a Crosstrek last month, and it was still possible to find the colour and trim we wanted.
Unfortunately for buyers, the double-whammy of increased demand and restricted supply means that a favourable deal on a new car can be tricky. Canadian provinces do have some consumer protections that prevent dealers from selling a car for more than an advertised price. This means that pricing a car for more than the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MRSP) is far less common north of the border than it is in the United States.
But as demand soars and supply hasn’t yet returned, dealers aren’t likely to give you much of a discount. They can afford to wait until a customer comes along who is willing to pay full asking price, or not far from it.
Having to pay full price for a vehicle and then potentially waiting weeks or even months for it to arrive is hardly what customers want to hear. The one salve is that most people are either trading in or privately selling their current vehicle to make room for the next one. Low supply and high demand for new cars mean that used car demand is also through the roof.
That puts consumers back in the driver’s seat somewhat. If you’ve got a Ford F-150 or a Jeep Wrangler or a Toyota Highlander Hybrid, you know that you can demand top dollar for your trade-in.