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Kia Niro EV Long-Term Review, Part 18: Profiling the EV Buyer

The Kia Niro EV
Photo: D.Boshouwers
The Kia Niro EV

Auto123 puts the Kia Niro EV to the long-term test. Today, part 18.

Our nation’s leaders say it, automakers say it, scribes of many stripes are saying it. Everybody it seems is saying it: The future of mobility is electric. But the future is still, ultimately, in the hands of consumers. Which led me to ask some automotive and EV experts to draw us a portrait of the consumers likely to jump on the electric bandwagon.

You can decide if you recognize yourselves in that portrait…

The gospel according to...
Since I've been driving around in a Niro EV since the beginning of this long road test spanning several seasons, let's start by asking Kia Canada: "Who buys your EVs?"

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Frédéric Tremblay, Director of Public Relations and Marketing for Kia Canada in Quebec
Photo: Kia
Frédéric Tremblay, Director of Public Relations and Marketing for Kia Canada in Quebec

The answer from Frédéric Tremblay, Kia Canada’s director of public relations and marketing in Quebec, wasn’t long in coming.

“Our EV owners are families with medium to high incomes. Their children are already grown. These mature buyers are taking responsibility for their choice and aligning it with industry data. Young at heart and digital enthusiasts, they prioritize renewable energy, but the product they choose must still reflect value and practicality.”

In full PR mode, Tremblay couldn't help but add, “Which is great for us, because Kia is a progressive and innovative brand!”

Didier Marsaud, Director of Corporate Communications, Nissan Canada
Photo: Nissan
Didier Marsaud, Director of Corporate Communications, Nissan Canada

I turned next to Nissan. The automaker was of course a pioneer in the field with its LEAF, and it’s about to launch the highly anticipated Ariya EV. My query was well-timed, as Didier Marsaud, Director of Corporate Communications for Nissan Canada had a recent (February 2022) survey sitting on his desk (or more likely, on his laptop screen). Here’s the picture it drew of the brand’s EV buyers:

- 69 percent male / 29 percent female (I know, it doesn't add up to 100 percent but that’s a reflection, perhaps, of our times);
- Average age of 56, with 73 percent of them being 45 and over;
- Married couples in 82 percent of cases and 77 percent are empty-nesters;
- Average household income of $141,000 (56 percent report over $100,000);
- 70 percent live in the city or suburbs;
- Most of them are in Quebec (56 percent), British Columbia (29 percent) and Ontario (8 percent) follow;
- Folks who like outdoor activities; those include travelling (25 percent), running, jogging, walking (25 percent), cycling (20 percent) and gardening (10 percent).

Hugues Bissonnette, General Manager of  Polestar in Canada
Photo: Polestar
Hugues Bissonnette, General Manager of Polestar in Canada

Next, the EV companies ...
So that’s that for big mass-market automakers like Kia and Nissan. Now let's see what a specialist has to say. According to Hugues Bissonnette, General Manager for Canada of Polestar, the Geely/Volvo sub-brand that sells only EVs:

- “Our typical customer is a technology-oriented, progressive buyer. They're not necessarily first-adopters (you know, the ones who have to have the new thing before anyone else), but they do appreciate the latest trends and like the idea of sustainability.”
- “Our clientele cares about the environment and really modifies their daily behavior to make our world a better place.”
- “Finally, they’re not indifferent to spectacular and evocative design. These people want a product that is fun to use, of course, but also fun to look at.”

Okay, I think we're starting to get an idea of what manufacturers say makes for a typical EV owner-driver.

I left behind the PR folks with a vested interest to talk to two ardent supporters of electric cars. In a sense, they too have something to “sell”: the importance, indeed the urgency, of going electric.

Daniel Breton, President-CEO of Electric Mobility Canada
Daniel Breton, President-CEO of Electric Mobility Canada

Then, the hardcore folks...
Let's start with Daniel Breton, President and CEO of Electric Mobility Canada, a national organization that seeks to accelerate the electrification of transportation to combat climate change and pollution, while supporting the Canadian economy.

"With 150,000 electric vehicles now on the road in Quebec, there are fewer and fewer “typical” electric drivers," maintains Daniel.

"Three or four years ago, we could identify a type of person who was more likely to buy an EV for ecological and/or technological reasons. Today, the skyrocketing price of fuel combined with the growing choice of EV models has completely changed that."

"People who had little or no interest in EVs just a year or two ago are ordering one in increasing numbers. I’ve recently spoken with several dealerships from various manufacturers and they tell me EVs now represent between 40 and 80 percent of their new-vehicle orders."

“For more and more Quebecers, EVs are now becoming mainstream vehicles, which is desirable since the Quebec government is targeting 1.6 million EVs on our roads by 2030.”

Yannick Lemelin of BEQ Technology
Yannick Lemelin of BEQ Technology

Yannick Lemelin, customer service coordinator at BEQ Technology, a one-stop shop of sorts for transportation electrification, and a previous participant in this long-term Niro EV review, had this to say:

"Five years ago, I would have described the typical EV owner as an innovator, a forward thinker or an environmentalist. Now they’re self-confident, a realist - maybe an accountant, for example.

It’s easier today to describe those who don’t believe in EVs, their health and climate change benefits, their advantages and the fact that EVs are cheaper (vs combustion-engine vehicles) when you consider their use and life cycle. In short, these disbelievers are dinosaurs! Sooner or later (2035), they will have to switch to electric cars and then they will realize that they were wrong to hesitate.”

Finally, I recommend checking out the results of a recent survey (French-language only) conducted by Association des véhicules électriques du Québec (AVEQ), which offers up some illuminating data on the trends in the domain of electric mobility.

Obviously, much of the above information concerns Quebec, which is the province where the electric vehicle has made its biggest inroads to date. Points of view elsewhere in Canada may – in fact, surely do – differ. But it’s likely that what we’re seeing in Quebec today is what we’ll be seeing on a national level fairly quickly. Worth keeping in mind…

The Kia Niro EV, front grille
Photo: D.Boshouwers
The Kia Niro EV, front grille

See also: Kia Niro EV Long-Term Review, Part 1: The Carmaker, the Reviewer and the (Young) Enthusiast

See also: Kia Niro EV Long-Term Review, Part 2: Electric Cars, a New Idea with a Long History

See also: Kia Niro EV Long-Term Review, Part 3: Let’s Look a Little More Closely at This Here Niro EV, Shall We?

See also: Kia Niro EV Long-Term Review, Part 4: Getting a Charge out of Charging

See also: Kia Niro EV Long-Term Review, Part 5: Many Kilometres, Many Questions

See also: Kia Niro EV Long-Term Review, Part 6: When the Computer Decides Things, Without Consulting Us

See also: Kia Niro EV Long-Term Review, Part 7: Off to Join the Electric Circuit

See also: Kia Niro EV Long-Term Review, Part 8: The Benediction

See also: Kia Niro EV Long-Term Review, Part 9: Beating the Cold

See also: Kia Niro EV Long-Term Review, Part 10: Let’s Talk Maintenance

See also: Kia Niro EV Long-Term Review, Part 11: Questions… and Answers

See also: Kia Niro EV Long-Term Review, Part 12: All About Nozzles

See also: Kia Niro EV Long-Term Review, Part 13: Station to Station

See also: Kia Niro EV Long-Term Review, Part 14: The Cost of Charging

See also: Kia Niro EV Long-Term Review, Part 15: How to Pick Your Home Charging Station (1 of 2)

See also: Kia Niro EV Long-Term Review, Part 16: How to Pick Your Home Charging Station (2 of 2)

See also: Kia Niro EV Long-Term Review, Part 17: Should You Buy the 1st or 2nd Generation?