Canada is one of the biggest car manufacturing countries in the world and the automotive industry is a significant contributor to the country’s economy. However, the industry was hit hard by the recent pandemic and is only now recovering from the delays and lower demand caused by the pandemic.

Knowing the current and historical statistics and trends of the automotive industry in Canada is important to anyone involved in the manufacturing, sales, or marketing of motor vehicles and their parts. We have collated information on the Canadian automotive industry in this article, so continue reading to find out the key statistics on the industry.

Automotive Industry Statistics for Canadians

  • Canada’s automotive manufacturers assemble around 1.9 million vehicles in a year.
  • The automotive industry contributes around $19 to Canada’s GDP and has a revenue of over $100 billion.
  • The average salary in the industry is $78,000.
  • Only 12% of cars manufactured in Canada are sold in Canada.
  • 1 million vehicles were registered in Canada in 2021.
  • In 2021, over 1.7 million motor vehicles were sold in Canada.
  • Both the Canadian Government and automotive manufacturers are investing billions in electric vehicle production.
  • China and the US are the biggest automotive manufacturers in the world.

The Automotive Industry in Canada

The automotive industry is a sector of the economy involved in manufacturing, distributing, selling, and servicing motor vehicles. The industry has various segments, which include vehicle assembly, parts production, maintenance services, and dealership operations.

Automotive production has a long history in Canada, with the first Canadian automobiles having been built in 1867 and today Canada is home to several major automotive companies and among the top twelve manufacturers of light vehicles.

Vehicle Manufacturing in Canada

The automotive industry in Canada is largely centred on the automotive manufacturing cluster of the Great Lakes. There are five global original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in Canada that assemble over 1.4 million light commercial vehicles every year. These companies are Ford, GM, Stellantis, Honda, and Toyota. In addition, Canadian automotive manufacturers produce around 460,000 passenger vehicles and 23,000 heavy trucks in a year.

Canada has almost 700 parts suppliers, which include companies such as Linamar, Magna, and Martinrea. In addition, one of the just five machine-tool-die-and-mould-making clusters is in Canada and it has been building motor vehicles for over a century.

Contribution to GDP

The automotive sector is one of the largest manufacturing industries in Canada and it is important for the country’s economy. The contribution to Canada’s GDP from the whole automotive industry is more than $19 million, with the vehicle and parts manufacturing contributing most of it at $16 million.

Automotive Industry Revenue

According to Statista, the revenue from the Automotive industry in Canada declined between 2016 and 2019. In 2016, the revenue was $107.24 billion compared to $102.79 in 2019. However, the revenue in 2019 was just over $2 billion more than in 2018, showing that the revenues were starting to pick up again before COVID-19.

As a result of the pandemic, the revenue declined by $15.5 billion in 2020, which is 26.7% of the 2019 revenue. As car sales in Canada and across the world have improved again post-pandemic, it is likely that revenue from 2021 to 2022, when published, will be better than in 2020.

The market size of the Canadian auto parts manufacturing sector was estimated at $5.6 billion in 2020, with an average growth rate of 2.5% between 2015 and 2020. The expected revenue for 2021 was $6.1 billion, showing an annual growth of 14.8% since the pandemic hit car parts production in 2020.

Automobile electronics manufacturing is a growing sector within the automotive industry and in 2020, its market size was $2 billion. Another significant sector of the industry is the engine production sector, which was worth $4 billion in 2020.

Employment

In 2020, the automotive industry in Canada directly employed 117,200 people, with most of these jobs located in Ontario. In addition to these direct jobs, 371,400 people were employed in motor vehicle sales and services in 2020. Approximately 14,800 people work in the auto parts manufacturing sector, 7,100 in engine production, and 4,600 people in the automotive electronics sector in Canada.

According to Salary Explorer, the average salary in the automotive industry in Canada is $78,000. However, there are huge differences in pay depending on the job title and experience. The low averages in the industry are around $35,600 and the high averages in the region of $222,000. People working on the assembly of automobiles can expect to earn around 30% more than the national average.

While the number of women employees in the automotive sector is growing, women are still underrepresented with only 27% of the workforce being women or identifying as women. However, it is an improved statistic compared to 2016 when women represented just 19.9% of the workforce.

Canada’s Automotive Industry is a Key Exporter

The automotive industry is the second biggest exporter in Canada. The biggest export category is mineral oils, which include oil. In 2022, the oil and gas industry exported almost $244 billion worth of products, which represented 30.2% of all Canadian exports.

The share of vehicle exports was 8.4% and totalled $68 billion. Canada’s automotive industry largely depends on these exports. Domestic sales only make up 12% of vehicles manufactured in Canada, while 85% of cars made in Canada are exported to the United States.

Motor Vehicle Registrations in Canada

According to Statistics Canada, the registrations of road motor vehicles increased in Canada by 1.9% from 2020 to 26.2 million in 2021. Approximately 24.1 million, representing 90% of all vehicles registered in 2021, were light-duty vehicles and passenger cars were the most common vehicle type.

In 2021, most vehicles registered in Canada were gasoline vehicles at 94.9%. However, the registrations of electric and hybrid vehicles are increasing every year. 303,073 vehicles in 2021 were hybrid vehicles, 152,685 were battery-electric vehicles, and 95,896 were plug-in electric vehicles.

Automotive Sales in Canada

In 2021, there were over 1.7 million motor vehicles sold in Canada. This showed the industry was recovering from the decline during the COVID-19 pandemic as sales were up by around 7% compared to the previous year.

Much of this was driven by the increased sales of commercial vehicles. New registrations in this category increased by 9%. In contrast, the recovery from a 36% drop between 2019 and 2020 in the number of passenger cars is taking noticeably longer.

Car Sales in 2023

According to Marklines, the sales figures have improved in 2023 compared to 2022. In March, sales were up by 3.7% compared to March 2022 and in April, the year-on-year improvement was 2.3%. The sales were also up compared the first quarter of 2023 to the first quarter of 2002.

The total number of vehicles sold in the first quarter of 2023 was 345,439, which was a 5.2% improvement from the previous year. The total number of vehicles sold in 2023 is expected to be around 1.65 million and to climb to 1.8 million in 2024.

Some brands have seen increases beyond the average. The most improved brand Maserati might only have sold 279 vehicles, but its sales improved by an incredible 89.8% from the previous year. The table below shows the five brands with the most improved sales.

The Brand

Sales

Year-on-year change

Maserati

279

89.8%

Genesis

1,322

52.5%

Lexus

7,250

42.3%

Kia

20,499

38.1%

Land Rover

1,952

37.1%

Not all brands had favourable results, and some saw big declines in their sales between 2022 and 2023. The brand with the steepest decline was Honda with a 25.8% reduction in sales and selling 16,199 vehicles in the first quarter of 2023. The table below has the five brands that saw the biggest year-on-year declines.

Brand

Sales

Year-on-year change

Honda

16,199

-25.8%

Acura

2,857

-15.5%

Mazda

11,326

-12.3%

Subaru

9,540

-10.9%

Audi

6,107

-9.2%

Future Developments in the Automotive Industry

The automotive industry has gone through many changes in the last few decades with new technologies reshaping car manufacturing and the shift towards greener vehicles changing manufacturers’ priorities. What could the future look like for the Canadian automotive industry?

The Government is Investing in Electric Vehicles

Because the Canadian government has set a target for the country’s vehicle fleet to be carbon neutral by 2050, it is subsidising car manufacturers to support the production of electric vehicles. According to the International Trade Administration, the subsidies included $2 billion to Ford, $1.5 billion to Stellantis, and $1 billion to General Motors (GM). All three companies also announced in 2022 that they are building facilities for manufacturing electric vehicle batteries.

Automotive Manufactures Are Also Investing in Electric Vehicles

All the five main car manufacturers operating in Canada have also invested in electric vehicles. Stellantis contributed $3.6 billion in 2022 towards retooling plants in Windsor and Brampton, Ontario, to create the first electric vehicle testing lab in North America with a research and development centre.

GM committed $2 billion to refurbish its facilities in Oshawa and Ingersoll, Ontario and created 2,600 jobs in the process. Ford announced a $1.95 billion investment in Ontario, Honda a $1.4 billion investment to make its Alliston, Ontario plant into a leading hybrid-electric vehicle facility, and Toyota is optimising its plants in Cambridge and Woodstock, Ontario intending to produce more electric vehicles than any other automaker in Canada.

Key Statistics on the Global Automotive Industry

The global automotive industry saw decreasing demand and disrupted production because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, a chip shortage caused by the pandemic led to approximately 11.3 million motor vehicles being cut from global production.

The sales of automobiles began to recover from the pandemic-related drop in 2021 and reached 66.7 million sold units. The growth is expected to continue in 2023. However, the sales are still likely to be below those from 2019. Passenger cards represented 68.2% of global motor vehicle sales, with China and the United States being the two largest markets.

The revenue from the global automotive manufacturing industry generated a revenue of approximately 2.86 trillion USD in 2021. China, which manufactured 26.08 million vehicles in 2021 according to data published by World Population Review, is the leading automotive manufacturer in the world. The United States is second with 9.17 vehicles and Japan is third with 7.85 vehicles.

In 2021, according to Statista, the best-selling brand was the Japanese Toyota. Its market share was approximately 10.5%. In second place was the German brand Volkswagen with a 6.4% share. While Volkswagen had a smaller market share in units sold, it beat Toyota on revenue. The Volkswagen Group’s revenue was approximately 295.73 billion USD. They also invested the most in research and development.

Conclusion

Despite recent challenges, the Canadian automotive industry is looking to the future and investing in Canadian production and development, in particular in the electric vehicle sector. The industry’s annual revenue is over $100 billion and it contributes significantly to the GDP. The automotive industry is vital to the economy of Canada, especially in Ontario where most of the manufacturing is concentrated.

Frequently Asked Questions

The two most popular car brands in Canada are Ford and Toyota.

The Canadian automotive industry makes, on average, 1.9 million motor vehicles per year. Around 1.4 million are light vehicles.

About 12% of cars manufactured in Canada are sold in Canada. 85% of the cars are exported to the US and the rest to other parts of the world.

Sources