Nearly seven in 10 Canadians intend to make their next vehicle purchase an EV: survey
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Mar 3, 2021
Luke Sarabia

KMPG poll finds that most Canadians plan to go electric, with price the only major roadblock and younger generations the most keen

KPMG poll finds that most Canadians plan to go electric, with price the only major roadblock and younger generations the most keen

As electric vehicle sales in Canada continue their recovery following last year’s lockdown-related dip, new research (full report available here) by KPMG in Canada indicates that a significant number of Canadians plan to purchase electric vehicles in the near future.

Sixty-two per cent of 2,000 Canadians polled indicated they plan on buying a new vehicle in the next five years. A strong majority of that group — 68 per cent — say they are likely or very likely to choose an EV for their next vehicle purchase, whether it be a pure battery electric or hybrid model.

“Canada’s automotive industry is nearing the tipping point, with nearly 70 per cent of Canadians indicating that they’re looking to buy an electric vehicle not in a decade’s time, but in the next five years,” says Peter Hatges, partner and national sector leader, automotive at KPMG Canada.

Peter Hatges
Peter Hatges, Partner, National Sector Leader, Automotive, KPMG Canada.

“Our poll research illustrates huge consumer demand in Canada for EVs, putting the onus on manufacturers and governments alike to shift gears not only to meet the expected surge in EV sales but to invest heavily in the necessary infrastructure.”

Young people more likely to buy electric

The survey found enthusiasm about buying EVs varied across generations as well as provinces, with younger age groups consistently the most likely to go electric.

Of those aged 18 to 24 who are planning to purchase a vehicle in the next five years, 83 per cent said that it’s likely to be an EV. That figure drops to 80 per cent for 25 to 34 year olds; 77 per cent for 35 to 44 year olds; and 58 per cent for those aged 45 and older. The results noted a gender divide with 73 per cent of male respondents likely to buy an EV compared to 62 per cent of female respondents who intend to do the same.

Provincially, residents of British Columbia, Quebec and Ontario were the most likely to electrify, with 77 per cent, 75 per cent and 70 per cent of respondents from those provinces, respectively, signaling an upcoming EV purchase. That number fell to 55 per cent in Atlantic Canada, 54 per cent in Alberta and 48 per cent in both Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

The geographic patterns are unsurprising and further underscore an electrification sales gap between the big three leaders – BC, Quebec and Ontario – and the rest of Canada. B.C. and Quebec both offer EV purchase incentives (Ontario discontinued its program in 2018), which could contribute to customer willingness to go electric. However, KPMG’s poll was conducted prior to Nova Scotia announcing its new rebate program last month for both new and used EV purchases. It will remain to be seen if adoption-intent in that province rises with the policy change.

Cost, infrastructure still concerns

Another thing that the survey shows is that the still-high upfront price of EVs remains on the mind of electrification skeptics and enthusiasts alike.

Among those not interested in buying an EV, 60 per cent cited high prices as a chief concern. About a third of respondents likely to buy an EV said that they’d like to spend less than $30,000, a price point at which options for PEVs as well as PHEVs are currently limited.

As such, the availability of low-cost electric models is sure to be a major factor in the extent to which EV sales figures multiply over the next decade. However, as battery costs continue to decline, government continues to offer education and incentive programs and more automakers are placing a serious emphasis on electrification, affordably going electric is likely to become much more plausible in the near future.

Other reasons not to go electric listed by respondents were limited vehicle ranges and lack of charging infrastructure, each of which were cited by about half of those planning to buy a vehicle but not an EV. Conversely, those who said they would buy an EV singled out their environmental benefits and lower operating costs as top motivating factors.

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