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Half of Canadian Car Buyers Not Ready to Go Electric - Study

Electric logo on the 2023 Hyundai Kona EV | Photo: D.Boshouwers
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Daniel Rufiange
The transition to electric will go ahead, it's often said, but it will be at the pace dictated by consumers.

According to a study just published by J.D. Power, a narrow majority of Canadian new-car buyers report being “very unlikely” to switch to an all-electric vehicle. 

Data on electric vehicles is pouring in from all sides, and can sometimes be confusing and even contradictory. 

EV Sales figures are increasing year on year, and the percentage of electrified vehicle registrations is growing in Canada. We sometimes hear talk of a slowdown in demand, but it's not the number of sales that's declining, but the anticipated rate of growth. 

As proof, in the first three months of 2024, applications for discounts on electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids eligible for the federal program totaled 41,101. That’s a 135-percent increase over the 17,513 applications for the same three months in 2023, according to Transport Canada data.

2024 Kia EV9
2024 Kia EV9 | Photo: D.Boshouwers

The recent J.D. Power study adds its two cents worth, in its case focusing on consumer intentions. It found that just over 25 percent of new-vehicle buyers are considering going electric for their next vehicle. Those are the ones currently requesting discounts. 

At the same time, 52 percent of respondents report being “very unlikely” to consider an electric model; another 19.6 percent said it was somewhat unlikely. 

What's perhaps more worrying for those hoping for a rapid transition is that two years ago, 34 percent of respondents said they were ready to go electric. Today, the figure is 28.5 percent. 

What hasn’t changed is that close to half of Canadian car buyers say they ARE ready to consider an EV for their next purchase, either somewhat or very. 

Range concerns, limited charging infrastructure and purchase costs continue to be the main stumbling blocks cited by skeptics this year. 

In all, nearly 3,000 Canadians were surveyed in March and April. 

Said J.D. Ney, director of automotive practice at J.D. Power Canada, “Auto manufacturers are staking their futures on EVs and investing massive sums in battery manufacturing facilities in Canada. But the reality is that they are still considerably more expensive than comparable gas-powered vehicles, and more education is needed to help shoppers feel comfortable making the transition.”

He did add that prices will eventually make more EVs accessible and attractive to those reluctant consumers; even more importantly, more and better consumer education will help turn the tide. 

2024 Ford Mustang Mach-E Rally
2024 Ford Mustang Mach-E Rally | Photo: D.Rufiange

To wit, the study reveals that just over half of Canadian consumers have yet to get into an electric vehicle. 

Another surprising fact. Our American neighbors are currently more open to buying an electric model, with 58 percent showing interest in the prospect. 

Daniel Rufiange
Daniel Rufiange
Automotive expert
  • Over 17 years' experience as an automotive journalist
  • More than 75 test drives in the past year
  • Participation in over 250 new vehicle launches in the presence of the brand's technical specialists