Prepared by the Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en analyse des organisations (CIRANO), this report explores the motivations, attitudes and contextual factors behind Quebecers’ vehicle purchases and usage habits, more specifically with regard to sports utility vehicles (SUV).
Drawing on the results of a 2022 survey of 1020 Quebec vehicle owners, this report builds on the research project Understanding the rise of light-duty trucks in Canada: reversing the trend, prepared by Équiterre in 2020 in conjunction with CIRANO. The report’s observations are very much in line with the 2020 project’s findings, while also allowing a more in-depth look at the situation in Quebec.
To read the comprehensive report (french only)
pdf - 10.76 mb Analyse des motivations dachat des camions légers au QuébecSee document
The study shows that SUVs remain the most popular vehicle type on the Quebec market and the vehicle most likely to be purchased in 2022.
It also shows that Quebecers are very attached to their vehicle, but do not use it to its full capacity most of the time – irrespective of vehicle type.
With a view to reversing the growing popularity of light-duty trucks, the study underscores the importance of actions targeting first-time buyers to encourage them to take better account of their actual vehicle usage needs. The study also suggests that reducing the Quebec vehicle ownership rate represents a daunting challenge.
Vehicle purchasing preferences
SUVs constitute 7 of the 10 most owned models (the other 3 are sedans).
Vehicle purchase preferences
In relation to the 2020 results, SUVs’ popularity in Quebec is certainly not waning:
SUVs constitute the most owned vehicle type (47%) – a greater proportion than in 2020 (37%), followed by sedans (39%), vans (5%) and pickup trucks (5%). The light-duty truck category accounts for 57% of vehicle ownership.
SUVs remain the most popular vehicle type among Quebecers, with a grade of 80/100, higher than in 2020 (66/100).
28% of the respondents indicated that it is extremely likely that their next vehicle will be an SUV, followed by sedans (20%)
Other vehicle purchase trends in Quebec :
Gasoline-powered vehicles remain the most popular in terms of purchase intentions, but preference for plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles is up from 2020.
In 2022, more respondents bought their vehicle new (65%) and financed it through the dealer (46%). SUV owners led the way with this type of financing (50%).
The pandemic and the current geopolitical context have had little impact on Quebecers’ vehicle purchasing or leasing plans.
A majority of Quebecers (58%) view their vehicle as indispensable.
Pickup truck owners report the highest indispensability score for their vehicle. While this vehicle type is designed for its utility, pickup truck owners are the least likely to view their vehicle as simply a means of getting around (instrumental motivations).
Looking at the vehicles as a whole, the most important features when choosing a vehicle are its price (54%), safety – both on impact (41%) and in terms of driving in winter conditions (38%) – and fuel costs (38%).
Most of the respondents reported that driving was enjoyable and liberating (affective motivations), but reported little in the way of symbolic motivations.
Vehicle use trends
Although a majority of Quebecers view their vehicle as indispensable, most (75%) drive fewer than 20,000 km per year and don’t use their vehicle to its full capacity:
Only 16% of the respondents occupy most of their vehicle’s seats at least once a week, while 40% do so only a few times a year, if ever (14%).
35% of the respondents use their vehicle’s entire cargo space only a few times a year, but 56% use it at least once a month.
The vast majority of the respondents never use their vehicle to transport work-related materials (91%) or to pull a load (80%).
7% of SUV owners use a trailer hitch at least once a month, which is less than pickup truck owners do (26%) but a bit more than owners of vans (4%) and sedans (1%).
Most trips are for running errands (35%) or driving to work or school (30%), followed by outdoor excursions, holiday travel (13%), social and recreational activities (13%), dropping off/picking up children (6%) and going to the gym (3%).
In general, the type of vehicle driven has little bearing on how it is used; having more than one child and the driver’s age have the greatest bearing on how a vehicle is used.
never use their vehicle to transport work-related materials
- 80% never use their vehicle to pull a load
Factors influencing the intention to buy an SUV
The intention to buy an SUV can be explained by factors relating to the vehicle’s features and to the person’s sociodemographic and psychological characteristics. An analysis of these factors shows that the intention to buy an SUV is highest among the following people:
- Attaching greater importance to the cargo capacity, the elevated driving position and the all-wheel drive feature
Caring less about the vehicle’s polluting emissions
- Aged 35 to 44
Has two children
Lives in a household of three people
Has family income of over $125,000
Lives in the country (followed closely by the suburbs)
Lives in a more remote area (Nord-du-Québec, Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean, Gaspésie–Îles-de-la-Madeleine)
Has a secondary residence
Has more affective motivations to drive
Attaches greater importance to values like pleasure, joy, ambition, authority and influence
Views their vehicle as indispensable, but not just as a means of getting from point A to point B
Believes that the actions of industries and governments have a greater impact on climate change than do their own personal actions
More subject to the influence of those around them and to the image of SUVs conveyed by the media
But already owning an SUV remains the most important factor behind the intention of buying an SUV in the future. In fact, 67% of the respondents who own an SUV reported that it is extremely likely that the next vehicle they purchase will be an SUV.