Newsroom Articles

Electric vehicles (EVs) currently represent a small slice of the Canadian automotive market, however, it’s important for dealers to understand how consumers look at these vehicles and there’s no better way to do so than an examination of what informs a consumer’s decision-making process.

In March 2022 we conducted a national consumer research survey of more than 1,100 car shoppers on the Marketplace. While some minor shifts in consumer outlook were observed when measured against EV research conducted a year ago, the results are comparable, with awareness and intent remaining strong. Dealerships with EVs in their new or used lineup have a tangible opportunity to shift customers from internal combustion powered vehicles to electric drivetrains.

The study found that while 93% of respondents don’t currently own an EV, 68% of them would consider buying one, up from 64% in last year’s study. About one-third (31%) of intenders clearly know the difference between the various types of electrified vehicles – battery-electric (BEV), hybrid (HEV), plug-in hybrid (PHEV), and fuel-cell vehicles (FCEV). Of those considering electrification, 56% would consider battery-electric, up from 46% in the 2021 survey, and the highest among all electrified vehicle types.

Of the many resources car shoppers would use throughout their electric vehicle research journey, 62% would visit OEM websites to learn more about EVs. Next up are third-party review websites at 60%, followed by online video websites at 44%, specialized automotive publications at 42%, and online automotive marketplaces at 39%.

So, what will the average car shopper consider buying? Unsurprisingly, Tesla is the first manufacturer that comes to mind, with 77% of respondents naming it for brand awareness – the same percentage as last year. Toyota was well behind Tesla at 38%, however, up from 32% in 2021. From there, we saw a considerable shift in brand awareness for Ford, which jumped from 17% to 27% over the year, and Hyundai, up from 10% to 21% during the same period. Undoubtedly, OEMs and dealerships have a sizeable opportunity to increase their EV visibility and awareness with car shoppers.

Tesla is also still the most desired brand among potential EV buyers at 55%, but has slipped from the 67% mark achieved in 2021. Toyota is second at 10%. Manufacturers that followed, ranked in order of consumer desirability, are Hyundai, Ford, Chevrolet, Kia, Audi, Rivian, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen and Nissan.

Among the reasons to purchase an EV, 89% of consumers cited fuel cost efficiency. That’s up from 83% in 2021, with the recent surge in fuel prices evidently playing a part. Choosing an EV for its lower maintenance costs remained constant at 51%, however, while 70% of respondents in 2021 wanted an EV because of its environmental friendliness, only 65% cited this aspect as a reason in 2022.

As for why a car shopper might decide against an EV, 73% said limited travel range would hold them back. That’s up from 61% in 2021, even as automakers double down on introducing EVs with longer range. Another reason was a lack of charging stations, with 67% citing this versus 54% last year; and 63% pointing to a higher purchase price, up from 61% last year. Other factors include long charging time, the belief that EVs aren’t suitable for cold-weather conditions, and an inability to charge the vehicle at home.

Current government incentives are sufficient to motivate 96% of potential buyers toward an EV. That said, 30% would be most enticed to purchase an EV with a rebate greater than $10,000, while 30% would be content with a $4,000 to $5,999 deduction from the sticker price.

Knowledge is power, and 97% of EV shoppers need to know exactly how far they can travel on a charge. Further to that, 94% want to know that they can easily charge at home, while 92% want to know that public charging stations are readily available to motivate them to make an EV purchase.

Eighty four percent of EV intenders believe EV sales and infrastructure will grow rapidly in the next ten years, and 55% are confident that over half of all vehicles on the road in ten years will be electrified.

Dealers need to invest time in understanding their electrified models and be prepared to share the information that remains top of mind with car shoppers, including the facts to aid consumers with overcoming any purchase hesitancy. Leaning on online educational resources aligned to EVs and educating dealership staff on these types of vehicles will help instill more confidence in consumers considering these vehicles.