Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Archive for August 18th, 2007

Tax exemption driving up sales of pickup trucks

with one comment

Vancouver Sun

New federal measures aimed at pushing Canadians into hybrids and other fuel-sipping vehicles are instead driving up sales of new pickup trucks, according to research released Friday by DesRosiers Automotive Consultants.

Sales of small pickups like Ford Motor Co.’s Ranger were up 18 per cent in the first seven months of the year, while sales of large pickups like Chrysler’s Dodge Ram rose 14 per cent over the same months last year, DesRosiers’ research shows.

I would like to think that this is the working of the “law of unintended consequences”, but I have become cycnical enough to know that this is not true. The effect was exactly as intended. North American manufacturers (i.e. car makes with plants in Canada) do not have anything much to stand up to the imported hybrid small cars (Toyota Prius, Honda Civic) that top the fuel efficiency lists – or even the conventional cars that nearly equal their fuel efficiency (Toyota Yaris).

The Conservative government exempted pickups when it unveiled its so-called EcoAuto program in March because it said many people use them for work.

Yes but many more of them now drive pick up trucks because they are seen as “cool”. And they may drive them to and from work but many do not “need” the truck bed except for the weekend excursions to the garden centre maybe. Even my 16 year old daughter yearns for a pick up truck.

The point was not to favour a particular segment of the population but I will bet that pick ups are the favoured vehicle of choice in Stephen Harper’s constituency. The percentage of pick ups used in Alberta for personal transport must be as high as it is in Texas. Like wearing cowboy hats at stampede time, it’s a statement about identity.

So I am sure that Ford, Chrysler (and, no doubt, GM though Des Rosiers does not mention one of their products by name in the piece) will be suitable grateful at the next Conservative fund raiser. Maybe they can add a bumper sticker with the Canada word mark. (Like the BC Liberals put on the SkyTrain (very belatedly) to acknowledge federal funding when they were looking for more Ottawa dollars for the Canada Line.) So we can see our tax subsidies at work.

Written by Stephen Rees

August 18, 2007 at 10:26 am