The Curbside Cars of Vancouver

Vancouver, British Columbia is a very unique North American city for several reasons and some of them make for great car spotting. First, Vancouver is blessed with a very mild climate. It rarely freezes so road salt is hardly ever used. What’s more, we are highly urbanised; many people live in or near the city’s core, myself included. This makes space critical as narrow streets make parking an issue for large vehicles. Coupled with the highest fuel prices in the Western Hemisphere, including North America’s first carbon tax, we have a rather different range of vehicles on the road than most places. This “study” is by no means scientific. It’s just the cars I see on my walks.

Toyota Corolla

I didn’t realise how ubiquitous the Corolla was until I started to think about the article. If I exit my building and look around, there will be at least one Corolla. There are new Corollas, old Corollas and plenty of Matrixes. What’s not to like about the humble Corolla? They are tough as nails and last forever. The Corolla is the car of choice for new immigrants and why not? For $1000 you can get a runner and it will probably last as long as would want to you keep it.

Honda Fit 

We Vancouverites are an outdoor lot. When it’s not pouring rain we’re out hiking, skiing or mountain biking to name a few. For this reason, the Fit is very popular. Again, what’s not to like? The loading system is brilliant, the cars are roomy, they drive well and are as reliable as rocks. My sister bought a 2010 new and it has yet to have a repair outside of regular maintenance. 

Honda Civic

The Civic is so popular that Honda built a factory in Ontario to make them. In fact, it’s close to the factory Toyota built to make the Corolla and Matrix. There are old Civics, new Civics and thrashed Civics; they are ubiquitous. Just a quick peek off my balcony spotted three of them.

Volkswagen Golf

The Golf has always been more popular in Canada than in the USA. VW is seen as kind of an upmarket brand in Canada. I am a Golf owner myself and the cars suit British Columbia well. A Golf will handle the city with its torquey motor and charge up the Coquihalla Highway. They are all over the place here. Owners, like myself, are willing to do some wrenching to enjoy the superior driving dynamics of a Golf.

Mazda 3

The Mazda 3 is a very popular car, probably the third most popular model on the street. The zoom-zoom handling and economical operation make the Mazda 3 a good car for Vancouver’s congested cities.  The box on the top is a cool thing in Vancouver.

Tesla Model 3

As of today, regular gasoline is selling for C$1.50/litre but electricity is going for C$0.885 kw/h. When added to our $8000 EV rebate, the Model 3 has a total cost of ownership less than a new Honda Accord. There is an EV boom going on here. The most popular is the Model 3 but the other Tesla models are also common. What’s more, I see more EVs every day. On the Cambie bridge near my home, I commonly see several EVs in succession. An interesting note is that many car advertisements are made on the Cambie bridge. Our electrical service is 95% renewables so an EV isn’t affected by the carbon tax or the C$0.17/L transit tax.

Old Stuff

The mild climate and smooth roads of Vancouver make classic car ownership a lot easier. There are some daily drivers such as the New Yorker illustrated but once spring hits, loads of old cars will hit the road. In my younger days, I took cars to Toronto on two separate occasions. I sold both at enough profit to pay for my entire trips.

This wraps up our short examination of the cars of Vancouver. Yes, gasoline is expensive and yes, the cost of living is high but one sunny day makes it all worthwhile.