Half of Canadians plan to buy an EV or hybrid next: Survey

Around half of Canadians intending to get a new car plan to purchase an electric, plug-in hybrid or hybrid vehicle, according to a new survey conducted by Abacus Data for Electric Mobility Canada (EMC).

Fifty-one per cent intend to buy such a vehicle, with 21 per cent opting for EVs, 20 per cent PHEVs and 10 per cent non-plug-in hybrids. Some 35 per cent plan to buy a gas vehicle and 14 per cent are undecided, the survey found.

Among people who don’t currently own an EV or PHEV, 44 per cent are inclined, very likely or certain to buy one next, versus 55 per cent for gas vehicles. Those ratios effectively flip, however — to 58 per cent for EVs and 42 per cent for gas vehicles — once people learn about government incentives, present-day EV prices and selection and advances in infrastructure.

The EMC survey is the latest among a wide stream of disparate data that seek to interpret the direction of the EV market.

While the intentions reflected in the poll present an optimistic picture, they also suggest that cost could be a sticking point, with 64 per cent of respondents budgeting $40,000 or less for their next vehicle purchase. That threshold is a “key limiting factor” for the EV-purchasing ambitions of many, says Erik Johnson, a senior economist at BMO Capital Markets, in an email to Yahoo Finance Canada.

“Until we see more scale from a number of brands other than Tesla (although Kia and Hyundai are rising quickly), there will be a sizeable portion of the market that is priced out given current cost-of-living challenges,” he said.

Teslas have accounted for around a quarter of all federal rebate claims for zero-emission vehicles so far in 2024.

The cost factor is further complicated by Canadians’ unfamiliarity with the choices available in the EV category. More than 90 per cent of respondents in the survey underestimated the number of EV and PHEV models available for less than the average price of a new vehicle (once government rebates are factored in) — there are more than 50, according to EMC. Only eight per cent of respondents say there are more than 40 models available at that price point. Forty per cent of respondents believe there are fewer than 10 models.

(It’s important to note, however, that most respondents also undershot the average price of a new car, SUV or pickup, with 84 per cent identifying a price below the $66,400 average according to Auto Trader’s marketplace index.)

The poll also found that more than half of respondents were unaware of federal government rebates of up to $5,000 for EV and PHEV purchases. Awareness of provincial rebates varied significantly, with a majority aware of rebates in Yukon, P.E.I. and Quebec, but 60 per cent or more were unaware of such programs in N.L., the Northwest Territories, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Manitoba.

Many of the purchase intentions follow similar regional patterns. Plans to purchase an EV or PHEV as a new vehicle next were highest among respondents in Quebec (50 per cent) and B.C. (48 per cent), with Ontario and the north just above 40 per cent. In the prairie and Atlantic provinces, those numbers were around 30 per cent.

Those data show “the strong measured effects of EV education on new vehicle purchase intentions,” BMO’s Johnson says, and suggest dealers can play a bigger role in raising awareness about rebates and other benefits in order to spur “increased sales in this segment.”

The poll was conducted in May, canvassing 6,150 adult Canadians. The margin of error for such surveys, EMC says, is plus or minus 1.25 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

John MacFarlane is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow him on Twitter @jmacf. Download the Yahoo Finance app, available for Apple and Android.

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