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As companies across Canada begin bringing their employees back into the office this fall while navigating the COVID-19 Delta variant, more of those employees plan to commute to work in their cars.
Those are the findings from a recent online survey of 1,519 Canadians by Leger Marketing that was completed for RATESDOTCA and BNN Bloomberg from July 23 to July 25.
The survey’s aim was to better understand how daily commutes for workers in Canada will change following the lifting of lockdowns and the return to the office. The survey found that only four per cent of Canadians are expecting to continue working from home full-time, compared to 16 per cent who have been working from home in the past year.
It’s clear that most Canadians are preparing to return to their office desks. A full 94 per cent of respondents said they expect they’ll be going back into the office for at least part of the week when lockdown measures ease.
Driving is by far the number-one way Canadians will be commuting this fall. The survey found that 71 per cent expect to use a car to get to work, an increase from the 65 per cent of commuters who used a car to get to work in the past year. Meanwhile, 13 per cent will be taking public transit, and nine per cent will be walking or riding a bike.
The stats could raise alarm bells about how cities will be able to cope with such a flood of commuters choosing cars over public transit or cycling. Perhaps most concerning, the survey found that 67 per cent of commuters will be travelling in their car by themselves, compared to four per cent who will be carpooling.
Canadians have already gone on a massive buying spree of cars in the past year as COVID-19 fears have led to a decrease in public transit ridership. The demand for vehicles has pushed up used car prices to record levels.
The survey suggests that more than a quarter of Canadians (26 per cent) have either recently purchased or plan to purchase a car for the return to office life this fall. Of those buyers, roughly half plan to get a new car versus a used car.
Breaking the numbers down further, the survey found that more men than women are planning to buy a new car for commuting (31 per cent versus 21 per cent), and more 18-34 year olds than those aged 35+ are planning to buy a car to commute (36 per cent, versus 20 per cent).
Meanwhile, nearly one-third of respondents (32 per cent) said that they are paying more now to commute to work than they were in the past year, likely due to higher gas prices. Another 41 per cent said they were paying about the same.
BNN Bloomberg has teamed up with RATESDOTCA to take the pulse of Canadians every month on key pocketbook issues as we strive to better understand how households are navigating COVID-19. This is the third instalment in monthly special coverage.