Seven in 10 Canadians plan to buy an EV within 10 years

Environmental concerns and operating costs are the biggest motivators, but cost and lack of infrastructure remain barriers to entry.

Canadians could soon turn to electric vehicles in a big way, according to the latest insights from KPMG.

The global research firm’s survey of 2,000 Canadians, conducted mid-January, reveals that 70% of us plan to buy an EV, either pure or hybrid, in the next 10 years, with 62% looking to do so in the next five years.

The phenomenon is largely being driven by environmental concerns, but lower operating costs, tax incentives and lower auto insurance premiums were also factors. However, even though tax incentives ranked much lower on the list of reasons for buying, when KPMG asked all respondents about them more specifically, 70% said they would need some kind of tax or dealer incentive in order to make the jump to an EV.

There are also still persistent concerns about the lack of a robust charging infrastructure, with 83% of Canadians believing that auto brands should be required to invest in charging centre infrastructure.

“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,” according to Peter Hatges, partner, national sector leader, automotive at KPMG Canada.

Barriers to entry cited by those not in the market for an EV include high cost (60%), lack of charging infrastructure (50%), limited range (how far a vehicle can travel on a single charge) (51%), questionable battery life (30%), limited model variety (24%) and recharging time (24%). Also, 67% of respondents are hesitant to enter the EV space today because of cold weather reliability concerns, while 53% worry electric vehicles could damage the electrical grid.

The professional services firm’s survey data also reveals a wide regional intent discrepancy, with more British Columbians and Quebeckers in the market for an electric vehicle (77% and 75%, respectively) versus the less enthused Prairie provinces (48%) and Alberta and Maritimes (55% and 54%, respectively). Also, men outpace women in their intent to purchase, as do millennials and Gen Z versus the 45+ set.

Those in the market for an EV said they plan to buy a Toyota (23%), Tesla (19%) and Honda (9%). More men than women said they intended to buy a Tesla (22% vs. 15%), while 21% of women opted for EV models from Toyota.

Recently, brands such as Volkswagen have tried to boost their electric vehicle model fortunes by touting carbon neutrality, while Audi’s “the road ahead” campaign features the all-electric Sporback as its centrepiece.