The numbers are in: There’s just no slowing sales of luxury vehicles in Canada.
Overall sales grew by 5.5 per cent in the first three quarters of this year compared with the same period last year, but luxury vehicles — those made by brands that consider themselves premium — grew by close to 10 per cent.
“For the luxury brands, we don’t see the boom ending anytime soon,” says Robert Karwel, senior manager of J.D. Powers’ Power Information Network in Toronto.
“I don’t see any end in sight,” adds Dennis DesRosiers of DesRosiers Automotive Consultants. “It’s got quite a long run ahead of it. Whether it’s five years or 10 years, I can’t say, but it’s got no signs of slowing up. There are just so many people entering into their prime luxury use.”
DesRosiers is one of them. He bought and drove three Nissan Maximas in succession until he got an Infiniti G35, and now at 66 years of age, he drives an Infiniti Q50. Canadians “are retiring in record numbers, with record wealth,” he says, “and after working their tails off for 30 or 40 years, they’re treating themselves.”
Automakers are reaping the benefits, of course. Infiniti, for example, now has 41 dealerships since opening a new store last month at MontTremblant in Quebec, and its year-to-date sales are up 10.3 per cent over the same period last year. Mercedes-Benz, the best-selling premium brand in Canada, sold more than 35,000 vehicles so far this year and opened a new dealership in Calgary. Audi opened new dealerships in Blainville, Que., and Brampton, Ont., for a sales increase of 19.4 per cent year-to-date. It’s close to passing BMW, which plans to open a dealership later this year; sales of BMW brand vehicles were up only 1.1 per cent.
Ultraluxury brands, such as Rolls-Royce and Bentley, have posted double-digit increases this year.
Even supercar maker McLaren — with an entry-level price just under $200,000 — is seeing a sales increase. Morris Lubinich, general manager of McLaren Vancouver, recently said that Canada is “an important market” for the British brand.
There’s a lot of money at stake: A large, new Mercedes dealership can cost up to $75 million to build, depending on the size and cost of land, says JoAnne Caza, Mercedes’ director of communications in Canada.
The new Lexus of Lakeridge dealership in Ajax, Ont., which opened in January, is 73,000 square feet (6,700 square metres) of “innovative features that focus on hospitality, comfort and luxury experience.” It helped bump year-to-date Lexus sales up by 13.5 per cent over last year.
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