More than half of Canadians will ‘never buy a gas vehicle again’

KPMG finds soaring gas prices could be a big driver in accelerating EV adoption.

Adding geopolitical instability and soaring gas prices to existing environmental concerns is making the prospect of electric vehicles alluring, according to the latest survey by KPMG Canada.

The global research firm’s survey of 1,005 Canadian adults, conducted on Schlesinger Group’s Asking Canadians panel this month reveals that 51% of Canadians “will never buy a gas-powered vehicle again.” For those under 24, the number soars to 68%.

Among respondents, 47% of Canadians “are buying an EV or a plug-in hybrid EV right away,” despite potential shipment delays due to supply chain snarls, while 30% of those polled regret not having bought an EV already.

What’s more, 61% of Canadians say soaring gas prices and vulnerability in oil supply have convinced them it’s time to buy an EV.

Most major automakers have implemented plans to either significantly or fully electrify their vehicles within the next five to ten years in response to the urgent need to cut fossil fuel emissions and advert a climate crisis. A major concern is that, even once most new vehicles are electric, gas vehicles sold before then will stick around for another ten to 15 years. But KPMG’s findings suggest many Canadians are ready to start getting those cars off the road sooner rather than later.

“The poll results show that rising fuel prices are a big catalyst in changing Canadian attitudes towards EVs,” says Peter Hatges, National Automotive Sector Leader, KPMG in Canada. “Canadians were already on edge about the spike in inflation and are now afraid soaring gas prices will make it impossible to balance their budgets.”

Rising fuel prices either solidified or greatly influenced the decision for 42% of respondents that it’s time to buy an EV, while 66% say they are looking at all of their driving habits to conserve gas, such as driving 90 kilometres per hour.

And it’s not just telling pollsters what they want to hear: 6% of those surveyed had ordered an EV in the past month – representing a 50% spike in the share of EVs sold in 2022.

British Columbians and Ontarians voiced the most regret about not purchasing an electric vehicle, higher than the national average, with BC leading at 36%.

Finally, 72% of national respondents agree that current gas prices are “an impetus” for automakers “to hurry up and start making more EVs,” with BC, Ontario and Quebec residents overindexing at 74%. 

The latter attitudes reflect sentiments expressed from last year’s KPMG survey, with more British Columbians and Quebeckers in the market for an electric vehicle (77% and 75%, respectively) versus the less keen Prairie provinces (48%) and Alberta and Maritimes (55% and 54%, respectively). 

In a similar poll conducted last year, KPMG found that seven in 10 Canadians plan to buy an EV within 10 years, but the costs of cars and charging infrastructure concerns remained barriers.

But sticking with gas now seems to be the more costly option to consumers, and charging infrastructure is rapidly expanding. Today, OnRoute announced four more Ivy Charging Network quick-charge stations had opened at Canadian Tire Gas+ locations, bringing the total EV stations at its network of highway rest stops to ten. Ivy plans to have at least 69 OnRoute charging stations, which give an EV a 100 km charge in 10 minutes. OnRoutes are located along Ontario’s Highway 400 and 401, the latter of which is one of the busiest highways globally, with over half of Canada’s population living in the corridor through which it runs.