This year has undeniably been challenging for automobile manufacturers operating in Canada. It’s not only because of consistent year-over-year declines, it’s also the degree to which those declines have been mitigated under the surface by rising fleet volume and inflated incentives.
Premium automakers, however, aren’t trending in the same direction. Bolstered by booming SUV and crossover volume, even in the upper echelons of the luxury sector, upmarket brands combined for improved sales in the first 10 months of 2018 — albeit a slight year-over-year uptick of one per cent.
The improvement stems from premium automakers’ ability to tap utility vehicle demand in the most unexpected of spaces. Take Porsche, for instance: Only two decades ago, it would’ve seemed profoundly out of sync with the luxury SUV segment. In 2018, even in a record year for its iconic 911, Porsche Canada derives two-thirds of its volume from the Macan and Cayenne.
Audi, on the other hand — which was late to the luxury SUV game with its first Q7 in 2006 — now markets Canada’s most popular premium brand utility vehicle, the Q5. At Lincoln, where the brand’s third iteration of the full-size Navigator lingered well past its best-before date, an all-new Navigator outsold the Lincoln passenger car division in October. Meanwhile, BMW presently markets six different crossover nameplates and is about to begin deliveries of the X7, its biggest yet.