Canadians are not as excited about battery electric vehicles as they once were, according to a new report from J.D. Power.
But, as other reports show, hybrids are still very much an option.
Range, cost and infrastructure were cited as top reasons why nearly 4,500 Canadians who responded to the survey are shying away from battery electrics, according to the second annual J.D. Power Canada Electric Vehicle Consideration (EVC) Study. Compared to last year, there was a 13-point decline year-over-year in likely to buy a BEV.
So while a year ago, nearly half (47 per cent) of Canadians were either likely to consider a fully electric vehicle, that number is now at about a third (34 per cent).
“EV consideration has gone down in this country and that is in opposition to the U.S. where EV consideration has ticked up slightly year-over-year,” said J.D. Ney, director of the automotive practice at J.D. Power Canada, during a webinar discussing the results. “So the gap that we reported last year between Canadians and Americans when it comes to the likeliness for them to consider an electric vehicle, that gap is actually widened a little bit in the intervening 12 months.”
According to first-quarter data from S&P Global Mobility, while BEV sales dropped (8.4 per cent to 6.9 per cent), hybrid (7.1 per cent to 8.7 per cent) and plug-in hybrids (1.8 per cent to 2.2 per cent) grew compared to the last quarter of 2022.
“The main reason behind it is weather,” explained Guido Vildozo, senior manager of Americas light vehicles sales forecasting at S&P Global Mobility during the AIA Canada National Conference. He was talking in the context of Canadians preference trending towards hybrids and not the first-quarter data results. “We know that there’s an infrastructure challenge up north; 5 per cent of the population is in the northern territories [and] in the Prairies. Battery performance is not the same in this kind of weather.”
Indeed, cold weather concerns are one of the top reasons (48 per cent) why Canadians are wary of going with an EV for their next vehicles. In the U.S., the weather is a factor for just 20 per cent.
“Obviously that that makes geographic sense,” Ney said. “It tends to get a little bit cold in this country, compared to, say, owning an EV in Arizona, but it’s a fairly stark difference and a good reminder that there are some legitimate logistical and temperate concerns in terms of electrifying one’s transportation in this country.
Cost is also a significant concern with interest rates significantly increasing compared to a year ago.
“And so I think that has fundamentally changed the buying decisions, or at least the buying confidence of a lot of consumers,” Ney said.
And the price gap between an electric SUV and its ICE version can be $20,000, he added, which plays a role in decision-making.
“So it’s not surprising, to us anyway, when we take a look at overall consideration that given the interest rate realities of today and just everything up to and including affordability of housing, that’s going to have an impact,” Ney said.
Relatedly, as household wealth increases, so too does the likelihood that one will consider an EV. Four in five (81 per cent) of households making $200,000 said they own or could install chargers. On the other end, 48 per cent of households under $100,000 said so.
Access to home charging eliminates a lot of barriers for people, Ney noted.
Furthermore, likelihood to purchase increased with household wealth — 42 per cent of households making $200,000 said they were while 31 per cent of those under $50,000 were not.
So how can people overcome their hesitation around EVs? More than half (55 per cent) of Canadians have never been in an EV.
“As Canadians gain more experience with an EV, they’re likeliness to consider one goes up dramatically,” Ney said. “And so with new EV sales on the rise, it is giving more Canadians more opportunity to experience them.”