There were approximately 284,237 new vehicle (104,316 car and 179,921 truck) registrations for Canadian fleets in 2011, according to Canadian Automotive Fleet.

“The market is still far below the 2006 peak of 357,000 new-vehicle registrations. The typical breakdown for fleet is commercial 39 percent, government 7 percent, and rental 54 percent,” said Chris Gittens, commercial leader, GE Capital Fleet Services, Canada.

The most advanced sectors for fleet management are pharmaceuticals and consumer goods, as well as oil, gas, and mining exploration and associated services.

“There really are two economies in Canada — diversified manufacturing and services, generally located in the central part of the country; and the resource-based economy of western Canada,” said Chris Conroy, executive vice president & chief operating officer, ARI Canada.

The fleet market very much reflects those two, often diverging, economies, according Conroy. “With the resource sector once again going strong, getting the right vehicle in the right place is a primary concern. When you’re dealing with multibillion dollar oil projects, the cost of any vehicle downtime is just too high,” Conroy explained.

The situation is markedly different in other Canadian fleet segments, with lingering economic uncertainty meaning that fuel management, fleet rightsizing, and other cost-containment measures are front of mind.  

“As much of the Canadian economy is linked with that of the U.S., fleet managers here are facing many of the same pressures as their counterparts south of the border,” Conroy said.

Like the U.S., remarketing values are generally holding well. Strong resale values are being driven by fewer off-lease and fleet vehicles hitting the market. The number of new Canadian leased vehicles fell dramatically after the economic crisis and is now 60 percent below the average of the past decade.  

The top three trends for the Canadian fleet market are cost reduction/containment, environmental awareness/sustainability focus, and vehicle rightsizing based on need.

--By Mike Antich