U.S. used market no answer to used shortage in Canada


Despite the strong loonie, Canadian dealers are not all shopping south of the border for used vehicles they can’t get here.

Roy Vandermeer, director Manheim Financial Services said only five per cent of the money Canadian used-car dealers borrowed from Manheim Financial went to buy used in the U.S.

Vandermeer found that figure surprising.

“A few years ago, while the volume of U.S.-sourced vehicles wasn’t huge, it was significantly higher,” he told Canadian AutoWorld.

He said he spoke to a number of dealers to find out why and found the primary reason was a shortage there, too.

“It doesn’t seem to be a significant competitive advantage for Canadian dealers to source vehicles in the U.S.”

He listed the shortage south of the border, transport and border-crossing costs as ingredients discouraging U.S. buying trips.

In fact, he said some Canadian dealers find it profitable to do the reverse: sell Canadian units in the U.S.

Dealer Steve Ewing of Wade Ford in Smyrna, Ga., told Automotive News in early May, he has called wholesalers and has buyers out beating the bushes for clean 2007-09 domestic models he can retail for $7,500 to $12,000. But he has come up empty-handed.

“I’m keeping almost every vehicle I take as a trade-in and reconditioning it for retail sale. It’s still not enough. I’d call it a used-car inventory drought.”

Vandermeer noted Manheim Financial was financing more Canadian purchases as dealers scoured the countryside north of the border.

“The search for inventory has dealers shopping in more places than ever before and not limiting themselves to online or in-lane or even to a specific country where they need to go to find the cars they need,” Vandermeer said.

Statistics Canadian AutoWorld obtained from the Registrar of Imported Vehicles showed imports of light-duty vehicles (sedans, SUVs, minivans and pickups) went from about 113,000 in 2006 to nearly 240,000 in 2008 then shrank to just over 124,000 a year later.

There was something of a rally the year after, when totals rose to about 159,000. But they shrank to about 140,000 in 2011. Figures for the first four months of 2012 show a further decline month over month.