In a surprise survey result, Canadian consumers lag behind their U.S. counterparts in considering an electric vehicle (EV) for their next vehicle.
While many had assumed Canada’s consumers were more predisposed to EV adoption, the recently conducted inaugural Canada Electric Vehicle Consideration (EVC) Study by J.D. Power revealed that 53% of consumers in Canada say they are either “very unlikely” or “somewhat unlikely” to consider an electric vehicle (EV) for their next vehicle purchase. That number stands in contrast to the United States, where 59% of consumers say they are either “very likely” or “somewhat likely” to consider an EV for their next purchaseBoth vehicle manufacturers and government officials .
This is of particular note as both vehicle manufacturers and government have “lofty goals” for EV adoption, said J.D. Ney, director, automotive practice lead at J.D. Power Canada in a webinar presentation on the findings.
The Government of Canada has set a mandatory target for all new light-duty cars and passenger trucks to be zero-emission by 2035. It has already invested over $1 billion to support increased zero-emission vehicle adoption. The Zero Emission Vehicle Infrastructure Program (ZEVIP) is a $680 million initiative ending in 2027 designed to address charging infrastructure needs.
“There are several unique systemic challenges in Canada upon which manufacturers and policymakers need to collaborate to effectively navigate the transition,” said Ney.
“The good news is that EV consideration increases dramatically across a number of metrics once consumers are either better informed on the capabilities of the newest EVs or, better yet, have personal experience with them.”
Key findings of the 2022 study could help shape strategies for automakers, government, and by extension, aftermarket players wading into the EV space.
Of particular note is the regional natures of the findings.
The rate of EV consideration is highest in Western Canada, with 59% of consumers in British Columbia indicating interest in EV ownership. Residents of Quebec (50%) and Ontario (47%) have middling interest in EV ownership, while the Prairie (38%) and Atlantic Canada residents (35%) show the least interest.
Of interest to all also is the stark difference between U.S. and Canadian findings over cold weather performance, with 44% of Canadians citing range performance in extreme temperatures as a barrier to consideration, approximately three times that of U.S. consumers surveyed previously.
Limited driving distance per charge is cited by 65% of those who say they are “somewhat unlikely” or “very unlikely” to consider an EV, compared with 44% of consumers in America with a similar consideration level.
It is not hard to see how the distances and winter temperatures act as a one-two punch hampering EV adoption in Canada’s prairie provinces.
Beyond this, other key findings include
- Cost is a metric to watch: Six in 10 consumers (61%) who say they are unlikely to consider an EV cite purchase price as a factor. This compares with only 44% of consumers in America who say the same. While those in Canada have access to an incentive program at the federal level, many provinces lack meaningful incentives to help bridge the significant gap between the purchase price of traditional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles and EVs.
- More information engenders more consideration: The more experience that consumers have with EVs, the more likely they are to consider an EV for their next vehicle purchase. Likelihood of EV consideration is just 15% among those who have had no experience with these vehicles. That number jumps to 22% among those who have been passengers in an EV and to 42% among those who have driven one. Nearly half (49%) of those who own an EV will consider another EV for their next vehicle purchase.
The Canada Electric Vehicle Consideration (EVC) Study will be utilized as an annual industry benchmark for gauging EV shopper consideration. Study content includes overall EV consideration by geography; demographics; vehicle experience and use; lifestyle; and psychographics. It also includes model-level consideration details such as cross-shopping and “why buy” findings, and analysis of reasons for EV rejection. The study measured responses from 3,701 consumers and was fielded in April-May 2022.