We know the recession cut deeply into vehicle sales in Alberta. After all, with nearly one in 10 people out of work, motorists were forced to curb spending. But that didn’t stop us from buying cars and trucks altogether--we just altered what KIND of vehicle we bought.
Sales of new vehicles plunged 18 per cent between 2014 and 2016. At the same time, sales of used vehicles rose by 10 per cent. And because the volume of used vehicle sales is almost double that of new, the effect was that TOTAL sales (i.e., new and used combined) barely fell at all.
This switch from new to used vehicles also happened in the recession of 2008-09. In fact, new vehicle purchases were hit even harder. After hitting a record high in 2007, new vehicle sales dropped 27 per cent by 2009, while used vehicles continued to rise. Sales of new vehicles didn’t fully recover for four more years.
The substitution from new to used cars and trucks is not surprising during an economic downturn (that fresh new car smell comes at a price). But as Alberta’s economy gradually claws its way back, new vehicle sales are rising once again, reaching 11 per cent in 2017.