Canadians are less keen to purchase electric cars in 2023 than they were a year ago, according to a consumer survey out Thursday, despite a government policy push for widespread adoption of zero-emission vehicles.

J.D. Power’s Canada Electric Vehicle Consideration (EVC) Study, the second annual report on the topic, found that 66 per cent of Canadians said they were unlikely to consider buying an electric vehicle for their next car purchase – higher than the 53 per cent of respondents who felt that way in 2022.

The percentage of Canadian consumers who said they would consider buying an electric car next declined this year to 34 per cent from 47 per cent a year earlier, the report said. Canada’s figures lag behind the U.S., where 61 per cent of consumers said they are likely to consider buying an EV this year.

“Despite current legislation that is pushing hard for EV adoption, consumers in Canada are still not sold on the idea of automotive electrification,” said J.D. Ney, director of the automotive practice at J.D. Power Canada, said in a news release.

“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.”

For Canadians, “range anxiety” – or fears about driving distance per charge – was the most-cited worry about buying an electric vehicle. The high upfront purchase price of the vehicles came in at second place, and availability of charging stations came third.

Consumers who had test driven electric vehicles were more likely to say they would buy one, at 43 per cent, but more than half of consumers – 55 per cent – said they had never been in an EV.

Drivers in British Columbia appeared most interested in buying an electric vehicle, with 46 per cent of respondents in that province saying they would consider buying an EV next. Quebec and Ontario had “middling” interest in owning an EV, the report found, at 39 per cent and 34 per cent considering the option, respectively. Just over a quarter of Atlantic Canadians were considering an electric car at 26 per cent and Prairie drivers were least interested, at 22 per cent.

The figures suggest a challenge ahead for the federal Liberal government as it works towards electrifying Canada’s roads. Last winter, the government announced draft sales targets for zero emissions vehicles, with the goal of having 100 per cent of new cars sold being electric by 2035.

Experts told BNNBloomberg.ca earlier this year that government policy and pricing cuts from carmakers could see EV prices drop in Canada soon, addressing some concerns about high sticker costs.

METHODOLOGY

The Canada Electric Vehicle Consideration (EVC) Study is an annual industry benchmark for gauging EV shopper consideration. Study content includes overall EV consideration by geography; demographics; vehicle experience and use; lifestyle; and psychographics. It also includes model-level consideration details such as cross-shopping and “why buy” findings and analysis of reasons for EV rejection. This year’s study measured responses from 4,488 consumers and was fielded in April-May 2023.