The changed vehicle buying landscape in Canada is part-and- parcel of a changed global economic landscape.
Gino Caputo, SVP and head of TD Auto Finance Canada said that when the pandemic hit it caused pro- found changes to the global economy, “from goods consumer purchase to the ways businesses conduct day-to- day operations. So the first challenge is to understand how much of this is going to continue and how much is going to be temporary. And the automotive industry is no exception.”
Because of the disruptions created in worldwide supply chains and the microchip shortages, along with logistical and transport disruptions that followed, all impacted vehicle production in North America. Over the course of the pandemic, Caputo said close to three million fewer vehicles were produced.
Caputo added that the Omicron variant has caused more disruptions and created uncertainty as to what this new year will bring for dealers and their F&I teams. “We do know that before Omicron, we had seen supply constraints easing and we assumed that by mid-2022 those issues would be resolved. But we are seeing now that Omicron is causing more disruptions that anticipated, and it may take a bit longer to return to normal. While we continue to assume the supply chain issues will ease in the second half of 2022, any further outbreaks or tightening of COVID restrictions could cause more disruptions. So, there is still a lot of uncertainty.”
One area of uncertainty is what the bank of Canada will do with interest rates. Near the end of January, the Bank of Canada announced that its interest rate would remain unchanged at .25 per cent where it has stayed since January of 2021. It did however warn that while the global recover from the pandemic is strong, it remains uneven, and while demand for goods is growing, supply bottle necks will continue to hinder production and transportation pushing inflation upward; and GDP growth will remain moderate.
Caputo speculated that interest rates could begin to move up over this year. “A rising rate environment can impact not only the cost of borrowing but also a customer’s ability to make larger discretionary purchases. Both situations can have downstream impacts for dealers. With our ongoing competitive pricing and flexible financing options, we can find a solution to fit nearly every circumstance.”
“We’re well positioned to help dealers find solutions to each customer’s needs with only one credit check, and our industry-first near-prime program bridges the gap between our prime and non-prime programs to offer the lowest non- prime rate to qualifying customers,” he added.
Caputo continued that with the consumers doing more of their vehicle buying journey online, there is a growing need to have available to dealers more digital F&I products. TD Auto Finance is already rolling out digital signature ser- vices for example, as well as its TD Wheel app that “offers users insight into discounts and pricing available to them, as well as how much they might be eligible to borrow, to help them find a vehicle that suits their needs. The TD Wheels also provides dealers with high-quality leads at no cost to them.”