Deprived of the Best? Why Canadians Can’t Get European Cars

happy couple in the car
Despite how much Canadian car owners would love to get their hands on an Audi A1 or the Volkswagen Scirocco R, Transport Canada regulations have restricted the import of these European models. There may be several reasons why a vehicle doesn’t make it into Canada, and even those in automotive mechanic school question some of the regulations limiting our access to these cars—many of which boast state of the art safety features. Read on to find out why some European models can’t be driven on Canadian roads, and why this legislation may be due for some changes.

Country-Specific Standards

While many people lament the fact that some European cars can’t make it past Canadian borders, Transport Canada insists that our country’s weather is at the heart of the import restrictions. They say that certain European models simply aren’t manufactured with -40 degree winters in mind. In some provinces in Canada, snow tires are mandatory during certain months of winter.  However, winter tires may be limited or non-existent for certain European models, meaning potential safety hazards or fines for Canadian drivers. Many European models also run on diesel fuel, which is still highly uncommon in North America and becomes extremely expensive in the winter.

Safety Standards

Transport Canada also cites disparities in safety regulations as a good reason for keeping European cars from coming into Canada. Europe has small differences in regulation standards for their vehicles, including strengths for child seat anchoring systems, required roof intrusion strength and different rear test crash speeds. These may sound like fairly minimal differences, but someone from auto mechanic college will inform you that even the smallest changes to adapt to Canadian standards can add anywhere from $1,000-5,000 to the retail price. For the small European car market in Canada, these are prices which will discourage buyers and ultimately hinder sales.


Many car company presidents have spoken out against the Canadian restrictions against certain European models. The Volvo V40, which is not legal in Canada, has some of the newest safety technology and is an environmentally friendly plug-in vehicle. For reasons like this, European manufacturers have pushed for Canada to change its auto import rules via the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). The Canada-EU agreement, which will be finalized in 2016, will allow further Canadian vehicle exports into the EU, in exchange for Canada recognizing a list of EU car standards which will make it much easier to import cars from Europe. For students currently enrolled in auto mechanic training, this could mean the chance to work on more European models. Vehicles which could soon become legal in Canada include:

  • Volkswagen Scirocco R
  • Audi RS6
  • Alfa Romeo Giulietta
  • Honda Type R
  • Renault Mégane Renaultsport
  • Volkswagen Amorak

If Canada were to change its automobile regulations, which European car would you love to get your hands on?

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