When it comes to a battle between cars and hail, vehicles left out in the elements don’t stand a chance.
So when tennis ball-sized hail came barrelling down in parts of Calgary on Saturday, thousands of vehicles fell victim to the storm.
Dealerships were no exception. Hundreds of cars on different lots in the Country Hills auto mall were pelted with hail, causing thousands of dollars in damage.
Country Hills Toyota estimates cars out on its lot suffered about $2 million in damage, with most vehicles hit needing between $8,000 and $10,000 in repair work.
The magnitude of Saturday’s storm was much greater than most that hit the city, but hail storms aren’t unexpected in Calgary.
So to protect their vehicles from hail damage, several dealerships shelled out big bucks for massive tents or netting to shelter their cars.
Nissan, Toyota, Volkswagen and Mercedes dealerships in Country Hills all have either netting or tents to protect several of their vehicles. All say that protection made a huge difference in Saturday’s storm.
Toyota spent more than $2 million in 2017 to build massive tents to shelter several of its vehicles. It had about 300 cars under its tents when the storm rolled through.
Country Hills Toyota general manager Brian Schmidt said that even though the tents were an expensive investment, with this storm alone they paid for themselves.
“It’s why we put them up,” Schmidt said. “Without these… it’s already a pretty big disaster.
“It would have been an astronomical disaster if we didn’t have this coverage. They are a huge lifesaver.”
Nissan has put up hail-protective netting over its cars. It too sheltered much of the fleet from hail damage. The netting was installed in 2018 when the dealership was built.
The neighbouring Hyundai dealership, which has the same owners, was built in 2013 without any hail netting and didn’t have any protection for its vehicles when Saturday’s storm rolled through.
“We have significant damage on the Hyundai side and the hail nets really did a fantastic job on the Nissan side,” said general manager Jordon Romeril.
“This probably will push it over the edge,” Romeril said. “By this time next year, we will have nets at this store for sure — if not all the locations in the city.”
While dealerships are still assessing just how much damage Saturday’s storm caused, they are also busy with an overwhelming number of customers. Many of them are either looking for a new or used vehicle because theirs were written off due to hail damage, or looking to cash in on sales on hail-damaged cars.