Interest in EVs is down as Canada aims to convert all new sales to electric: AutoTrader

Only one in 10 Canadians have an EV vehicle. The top reasons Canadians gave for refusing to consider going electric are all economic

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The federal government has announced that all new vehicles sold in Canada must be electric by 2035, but new data shows that interest in EVs actually declined in 2023.

AutoTrader, Canada’s largest automotive marketplace, released a search data report that shows only 56 per cent of car shoppers who do not own an EV are open to purchasing one for their next vehicle, down from 68 per cent in 2022.

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While interest in vehicles powered by alternate fuels increased 15 per cent compared to last year, searches for electric vehicles only account for less than three per cent of overall searches on AutoTrader this year.

Currently about one in 10 Canadians owns an EV, according to AutoTrader, which sells both new and used vehicles. In 2023, new vehicles accounted for 41 per cent of inventory, up from 30 per cent in 2022.

The top reasons Canadians gave for refusing to consider going electric are all economic.

“EV prices generally tend to be 15 to 20 per cent higher than a comparable gas-powered vehicle,” said AutoTrader editor-in-chief Jodi Lai.

“That extra cost is not something that a lot of Canadians can stomach right now.”

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Forty per cent of Canadians said vehicle prices are the main obstacle to purchasing an EV, 24 per cent blamed interest rates, and 13 per cent said inflation, according to AutoTrader.

Although federal government incentives provide up to $5,000 towards the purchase of battery-electric, hydrogen fuel cell and longer-range plug-in hybrid vehicles, the rebate does not cover enough for many Canadians.

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The gap between EV and gas-powered vehicle prices in some models makes a huge difference for many people. For instance, the Hyundai gas-powered 2023 KONA starts at around $25,000, while the same model electric price begins at over $47,000.

The Chevrolet gasoline 2023 Blazer price begins at about $44,000, compared to over $63,000 for the electric one.

According to AutoTrader, nine of the top 10 vehicles sold in Canada this year were utility vehicles, such as trucks and SUVs. The Ford F-150 was the most searched and top selling vehicle.

In 2026, one in five vehicles sold in Canada will have to be electric or a longer-range plug-in hybrid. That increases to three in five vehicles in 2030 and that number keeps rising to eventually reach 100 per cent in 2035.

Guilbeault said in a press conference that the new standard will encourage automakers to make more battery-powered cars and trucks available in Canada.

This comes as a part of Canada’s strategic mission to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

Lai said despite some technical issues some Canadian EV users have experienced due to the harsh weather, EV technology is going to potentially improve, and the batteries will have less volatility in colder weather.

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“As the technology advances a lot of the sticking points that Canadians have with switching from an EV will not be so extreme because once they get more convenient, they get more affordable,” Lai said.

EV inventory on AutoTrader is up by 850 per cent year-over-year, and the marketplace is aiming to pass the government targets.

In November, AutoTrader data shows the average price of a used vehicle was $37,762 in Canada, an increase of about three per cent year-over-year. The average price of a new vehicle was $67,491, which is up about 15.4 per cent year-over-year.

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