Total gasoline consumption in Canada declined last year from record-setting levels in 2010.
Annual gasoline sales dropped by 1.6%, from an all-time high of 38.8-billion litres in 2010 to 38.2-billion litres in 2011, according to data released by DesRosiers Automotive Consultants.
This decline represents the most significant drop in gasoline usage in recent times, according to DesRosiers. It comes on the heels of an above-average 2009-2010 gain ( 2.7%).
DesRosiers notes that, while retail sales for use in automotive vehicles represent the bulk of this country’s fuel consumption, these national sales figures may include fuel used for other purposes as well.
Gasoline sales correlate broadly with the number of light vehicles registered for use on Canadian roads, DesRosiers explains. This metric has been on a continual upwards trajectory during the past decade, with 22.5 million light vehicles registered in 2011 ( 2.3%). That number is expected to continue growing over the coming years, albeit at a slower pace.
Given that ongoing increase, the 2011 decrease represents a deviation from the trend.
Rising fuel efficiency in the new vehicle market – particularly in the popular compact and mid-size-size segments – will reduce gasoline usage incrementally, Des Rosiers notes. But new vehicles represent a small portion of the overall Canadian vehicle total (7.2% in 2011).
Consequently, other factors, such as reduced economic activity, may be just as important, or more so, in reducing overall gasoline usage.
In the short term, the increased fuel efficiency of new vehicles is not expected to have an appreciable impact on overall gasoline usage, DesRosiers says.