Canadians have “notable knowledge gaps” about the cost and performance of electric vehicles, which may be holding them back from making that first EV purchase, concludes a survey commissioned by Electric Mobility Canada (EMC).
The majority may still think EVs are more expensive and less dependable and durable than gas vehicles, judging by an Abacus Data survey of 1,500 Canadians just released by EMC. Dispelling these misconceptions through public education could be the key to ensuring their next car is a plug-in.
In fact, supplying respondents with detailed information about EVs made them measurably more inclined toward purchasing one, Abacus found. Among those without an EV, 43% initially showed interest in buying an electric or plug-in hybrid car in the future, while 57% leaned toward gas vehicles. After receiving detailed information on the cost and performance of EVs, 63% of non-EV drivers showed a strong inclination to buy one, a substantial 20-point increase from initial intent.
“Additionally, 54% indicated that the information provided resulted in them viewing EVs more favourably than gas vehicles.”
Any Canadians still on the fence about buying an EV might benefit from talking to someone who owns one: The survey found that among the 14% who already own an EV, a whopping 88% would choose one for their next vehicle, with 41% citing cost savings as their main motivation.
EVs are lighter on the wallet than most Canadians realize, thanks in part to federal rebates of up to C$5,000—which 55% of respondents did not know about. Awareness of provincial rebates is also low, with 79% of respondents in Nova Scotia unaware of the $3,000 rebate available. In Quebec—where rebates can reach up to $7,000—51% said they were unaware.
There are similar knowledge gaps around EV charging costs. Only 23% of respondents said they’d already known that driving an EV for 100 kilometres can cost between 50 cents and $4, compared to roughly $12 to fuel a gasoline-powered vehicle. Some 21% said they were uncertain about the cost of driving an EV, a finding that EMC interpreted as an educational opportunity.
A further “notable knowledge gap” exists on the costs and benefits of EV purchases: “Canadians tend to underestimate the availability of affordable EVs, with only 9% aware of the more than 40 EV models priced below the average new vehicle cost with federal rebates,” the survey report says.
Information gaps on the availability and longevity of EV batteries are another purchase barrier. Only 10% know than EV batteries are designed to last as long as the vehicles that house them, with 39% expecting a battery lifespan of seven to 10 years. Over a quarter of Canadians figured EV batteries would have no more than four to six years of life in them.
While 68% of those polled expressed confidence in their ability to charge an EV, the majority were worried they would have to do it too often. Only 19% correctly identified the average EV range at between 400 and 500 kilometres. 21% put the range between 200 and 300 kilometres.
Canadians are also worried that they won’t be able to find a charger when they need one: 56% of respondents assumed there are less than 10,000 public chargers across Canada, when there are actually more than 20,000—a fact that one in four Canadians got right. (Those estimates also missed the first ABC of EV ownership—Always Be Charging—even though worries about battery range mostly evaporate when you realize you can and should plug in as soon as you pull into your parking spot at home.)