Truck sales remain strong despite pump prices

Amber Nicholson
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Clifford Gallant of Summerside fills up his gas tank recently at the South Drive Express Ultramar. While fuel prices have spiked in recent weeks, local dealerships say truck sales haven't been affected.

SUMMERSIDE - The cost of fuel on Prince Edward Island surpassed $1.20 per litre this week.

Prices have not reached that amount since the summer of 2008, but it does not seem to be having an effect on truck sales at local dealerships.

Local vehicle salespeople say they have yet to see rising fuel prices have any negative effect on their business.

"(Truck buyers) are prepared to pay. They buy the truck because they need the truck, in fact we have a couple going out today," said Clark's Toyota product advisor Edwin MacIntyre, who has been working with the dealership for more than 25 years. "Gas prices haven't affected sales yet." 

The Toyota Tacoma and Tundra are popular truck models for the Summerside dealership, totaling about 30 per cent of the businesses' sales. The Tacoma averages about 10 litres per 100 kilometres for city driving, while the Tundra averages about 14.1 l/100km in the city. In comparison, the Toyota Camry Hybrid averages about 8 litres less per 100 kilometres than the Tundra at 5.7 l/100 km.

MacIntyre said until gasoline prices rise to the point they reached two years ago, he does not see the increase having much effect on local truck sales.

"Until (fuel prices) start getting up to about $150 a tank than it probably won't matter. People usually have a small car to drive around in, but have the truck too," said MacIntyre.

Based on a 100-litre fuel tank, the price tag to fuel-up now floats around $120.

As MacIntyre stated, Island drivers were most conscious about their mileage in the summer of 2008 when fuel prices reached about $1.38 on the Island. Today, gas prices on the Island are averaging $1.21, slightly below the national average of $1.22.

D. Alex MacDonald general manager Rod MacDonald said the Ford-Lincoln dealership is seeing the same mentality from its truck buyers.

"When gas hit its highest point a couple years ago (fuel prices) certainly had an effect but not now, not as of yet," said MacDonald. "I don't think (fuel prices) will hurt anything, sales are still strong."

About 40 per cent of D. Alex MacDonald sales are trucks including the well-known F-series.  

"In the long run, it's not going to matter a whole lot," added MacDonald. "Maybe one tank of gas over the whole year."

Islanders remain around the middle of the pack in reference to fuel costs. In comparison to the Northwest Territories which recently saw a 28 cent increase bringing it to $1.58, P.E.I.'s $1.21 may not be as unfortunate as it seems.

anicholson@hotmail.com

Organizations: Clark's, Toyota Tacoma, Toyota Camry Hybrid

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, SUMMERSIDE, Tundra Tacoma Northwest Territories

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