More Canadian car buyers are rejecting electric vehicles, with nearly two-thirds saying they're unlikely to consider one for their next purchase. Meanwhile, a growing number of Americans say their next ride may be battery-powered.
Those are among the findings of J.D. Power Canada's second Electric Vehicle Consideration study, released on Thursday. The market research firm collected nearly 5,000 responses from consumers in April and May.
According to J.D. Power, 66 per cent of automobile shoppers in Canada say they're either "very unlikely" or "somewhat unlikely" to consider an electric vehicle for their next purchase. That's up from 53 per cent last year.
In the U.S., J.D. Power points to a "widening consideration gap" with Canada. The number of American participants who said they would consider an electric vehicle climbed to 61 per cent this year, versus 59 per cent in 2022.
"Consumers in Canada are still not sold on the idea of automotive electrification," J.D. Ney, director of the automotive practice at J.D. Power Canada, stated in a news release.
"Growing concerns about affordability and infrastructure, both from charging and electrical grid perspectives, have caused a significant decline in the number of consumers who see themselves in the market for an EV anytime soon."
Factors hindering EV adoption
Driving distance per charge was the most common concern cited by respondents (63 per cent), followed by purchase price (59 per cent), and lack of available charging stations (55 per cent).
Zero-emission vehicle registrations in Canada slipped in the first quarter of 2023 from a record high at the end of last year, according to S&P Global. The data showed combined market share of battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles in Q1 was 9.1 per cent, down from 10.2 per cent in Q4.
Analysts warn high interest rates and inflation could slow electric vehicle sales further. That challenges Ottawa's mandate for at least 20 per cent of new vehicles sold by 2026 to be zero emission, rising to 60 per cent by 2030, and 100 per cent by 2035.
"Against this backdrop, it is going to take significant investment and close collaboration between manufacturers and lawmakers to address issues of overall affordability, capability and infrastructure before Canada can reach its national and provincial EV sales targets," Ney stated.
Earlier this month, Volkswagen Group Canada's president and CEO Pierre Boutin told Yahoo Finance Canada that he sees electric vehicle affordability improving. But he also noted that won't happen overnight. In May, a General Motors (GM) executive called Canada's largest province a "laggard" in EV adoption, due in part to the Ontario government's elimination of a tax credit for EV purchases.
Despite more electrified options arriving in dealer showrooms, most (55 per cent) of vehicle shoppers have never been in an EV, according to J.D. Power. Among those who have rented, borrowed, or test driven one, 43 per cent say they are likely to consider an EV.
J.D. Power found potential buyers in British Columbia and Quebec were the keenest potential EV buyers, at 46 per cent and 39 per cent, respectively, with the lowest interest in Atlantic Canada (26 per cent) and the Prairie provinces (22 per cent). Those figures broadly align with EV registration trends in Canada.
Jeff Lagerquist is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow him on Twitter @jefflagerquist.