Losing Charge: Canadian interest in EVs drops for second year in a row, says AutoTrader survey

Toronto, Ontario — Interest in electric vehicles (EVs) in Canada has dropped for the second year in a row, says a recent AutoTrader survey, despite continued positive indicators from consumers.

The survey specifically noted that “while almost half of non-EV owners are open to buying an EV for their next vehicle, interest in EVs has declined for the second year in a row, from 68 percent in 2022 to 56 percent in 2023,” said Tiffany Ding, Director of Insights and Intelligence at AutoTrader.

Comparatively, Todd Campau, Aftermarket Product Lead, S&P Global Mobility echoed this information at the AIA Canada National Conference during a breakout session discussion when he said that “EV sales aren’t growing. We’ve heard there are some challenges in the current market. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see that hockey-stick growth settle down as we get to the next level of adopters and beyond those eager early adopters—we might see a slowdown there.”

Campau also noted that while Canadian EV sales in 2023 were around 143,000, this was largely driven by light trucks.

AutoTrader’s survey also found that the top contributing factors among Canadians who don’t intend to purchase an EV were concerns regarding their limited travel range and distance, inadequate availability of charging stations, higher purchasing costs and the belief that EVs do not function well in cold weather.

Contrastingly, positive consumer indicators included the potential fuel cost savings of EVs and their environmental friendliness.

Furthermore, “AutoTrader data showed a direct correlation to gas prices and EV interest, and since gas prices have normalized from their peak in 2022, EV interest has also dropped. Macroeconomic factors like high interest rates and inflation have also made it harder for many Canadians to afford the price premium EVs demand over their gas-powered counterparts.”

However, despite lowered interest in battery electric vehicles (BEVs), AutoTrader’s data found that consumers remain interested in hybrid vehicles.

This assertion is again further echoed by Campau who agreed that “I do think we’re seeing a greater shift toward hybrid, but policy drives a lot of this. There will be intermediary steps (toward EV goals).”

According to AutoTrader, “purchase consideration for traditional gas-electric hybrids (HEVs) and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) has been increasing. Accordingly, 62 percent of EV intenders would consider buying an HEV—up from 52 percent in 2023—and 60 percent would consider buying a PHEV—up from 54 percent in 2023.”

Additionally, over 75 percent of survey respondents are aware of the federal government’s zero-emission vehicle mandate, which requires all new light-duty vehicles sold in Canada to be zero-emission by 2035.

However, AutoTrader also noted that survey respondents feel it is “unlikely” that the country will be able to meet this target due to factors related to current charging infrastructure and concerns over government policy changes.

To read more survey information, click here.

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