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Almost half of Canadians are ready to buy an electric vehicle, says poll

The number of Canadians looking to buy electric vehicles in 2022 has hit its highest level yet, with B.C. leading the way, according to a new poll from professional services firm Ernst & Young Global Limited.
Electric vehicles
Port Moody, B.C., resident Bob Shield charging his Nissan at a city's charging station. Despite a rising consumer appetite for EV, charging infrastructure remains a barrier for some potential EV owners.

Nearly half of Canadians planning to buy a car say they will choose to go electric as concerns over cost, range and the ability to charge continue to drop. 

That’s according to a recent poll from the international professional services firm Ernst & Young Global Limited.

According to its May 2022 Mobility Consumer Index, the number of Canadians looking to buy an electric vehicle (EV) has climbed to 46 per cent, up 11 per cent from 2021.

“These findings mark a tipping point in the car-buying market,” said Ernst & Young Canada’s automotive leader Jennifer Rogers in a prepared statement. “Despite the drop in consumer travel over the past two years, preferences for car ownership — especially EVs — is growing stronger.”

While that’s six percentage points behind the global average of 52 per cent, it’s substantially higher than in the U.S., where only 29 per cent of respondents said they were ready to buy an EV, or in Australia, where 38 per cent said the time had come.

Italy, Spain and Norway in Europe, and China, South Korea and Singapore in Asia led consumer appetite for EVs, found the study. 

The poll comes as many Canadians continue to head back to worksites across the country, though the Ernst & Young researchers found trips to work in Canada remained 30 per cent lower than pre-pandemic levels — more than double the average of the countries surveyed. 

Part of the rising interest in EVs is due to fading concerns over cost. The poll found 38 per cent of Canadians worry about the upfront cost of an electric vehicle, down from 66 per cent in 2021.

Nearly 40 per cent of Canadian respondents cited the environment as the top factor influencing their decisions to consider buying an electric vehicle.

The availability of charging stations, however, still remained a barrier for 36 per cent of those polled. 

Still, eight in 10 said they were willing to pay a premium to get the EV they want, while nearly two-thirds said they’d pay 20 per cent more than an internal combustion vehicle.

Province to province, the poll found some important regional gaps in who is ready to buy an EV. 

British Columbians were most likely to show interest in buying an EV, with 54 per cent saying they were thinking about it. The lowest interest was reported in the Prairie provinces where only 25 per cent of those polled said they were thinking about an EV.

The study polled roughly 13,000 people around the world, including 1,000 in Canada. 

EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier version of this story said the Ernst & Young poll found nearly half of Canadians were planning to buy an electric vehicle. In fact, the results showed over half of those polled who were planning to buy a car were looking to buy an EV.