Car and driving trends to watch for in 2024
Cars on a sale lot

The road ahead in 2024 will offer up plenty of twists and turns for drivers, not to mention anyone looking to buy a car this year. For starters, it’s worth acknowledging that the pace of progress in the automotive world is accelerating. Cars are changing more rapidly now than ever before. From AI assistants in your dashboard to the continued rise of electric cars and whether you can (finally) expect car prices to drop, here are all the big trends Canadian drivers and car-shoppers need to know about in 2024:

SUVs and pickups continue to rule the roads 

Notice anything about the cars parked in your neighbourhood? No, it’s not just your imagination - there are more SUVs and pickup trucks than ever before. Of all the new vehicles sold last year in Canada, nearly 86 per cent of them were SUVs and pickups, according to Canadian market research firm DesRosiers Automotive Consultants. That’s a new record, and a trend that shows no signs of slowing in 2024. In response, car companies are trimming the number of non-trucks and SUVs in their lineups. In other words, if you’re looking to buy a sedan, station wagon, minivan, or a convertible, you may want to consider buying one sooner rather than later. The longer you wait, the less choice there may be. 

Taking action on auto theft

Auto theft is on the rise across Canada. High-profile vehicle thefts keep making headlines, and now the federal government is stepping in. In January of this year, the government announced a “national summit” to combat auto theft, bringing together provincial leaders, car makers and other stakeholders. “Rates of vehicle theft rose by 50 per cent in Quebec, 48.3 per cent in Ontario, 34.5 per cent in Atlantic Canada and 18.35 per cent in Alberta in 2022, as compared to the previous year,” according to the latest data provided by the federal government. 

More selection for car shoppers

In 2024, car shoppers can expect to see a greater selection of both new and used cars on dealership lots. That’ll come as a huge relief to anyone who tried to buy a car a couple years ago, only to be told there was nothing in stock due to global supply shortages caused by the pandemic. The number of new and used vehicles available was trending upward at the tail end of 2023, according to data released by AutoTrader Canada, and should continue to do so in 2024. In fact, as of December 2023, the number of used cars for sale in Canada was almost back to 2019’s pre-pandemic levels.

Car prices are (finally) coming down

With more cars on dealer lots, experts predict car prices should finally come down from the record highs of the last couple years. It’s basic supply and demand. AutoTrader Canada anticipates, “used car prices will be lower than those of the previous year for the first time in over 3.5 years.” So, used-car shoppers rejoice! It’s a similar story for new cars, with AutoTrader seeing prices “softening” there too. Buyers can expect to see more discounts and better deals on new models in 2024, according to analysis by U.S.-based Cox Automotive. The only bad news here is that high interest-rates will continue to make financing a vehicle purchase more costly.

Electric vehicles (EVs) are headed for another record-breaking year

Battery-powered cars are likely to be more popular than ever in 2024. The latest data from S&P Global Mobility, a market research firm, shows that combined sales of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles accounted for 1 in 8 new vehicles sold across Canada. And, a recent survey by AutoTrader Canada found that 56 per cent of car shoppers were open to buying an EV as their next vehicle. The fact there will be so many new EVs on the market should help push sales to record heights in 2024. 

AI is coming into your car

AI is coming to your smartphone, your laptop, and your online searches, so it’s only a matter of time before AI invades your car too. In January, Volkswagen announced it will integrate ChatGPT into its vehicles beginning in mid-2024. The idea is that this AI integration will power a supercharged voice-assistant that’s actually useful for drivers, unlike current in-car voice-assistants which (let’s be honest) don’t always work. Mercedes and BMW have announced AI-integration as well. “For example, you can ask your BMW not only to enable a given drive mode, but also about the differences between the drive modes,” the website Ars Technica reported. In an era when cars are increasingly complex, with countless options and settings and sub-menus, having a built-in assistant to answer questions and perform basic operations could be extremely useful, not least of all because it will keep drivers’ eyes focused on the road rather than on in-car screens.

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