B.C. electric vehicle sales continue to rise as survey finds softening Canadian interest

Click to play video: 'New report says Canadians less likely to buy EV’s'
New report says Canadians less likely to buy EV’s
A new survey shows more Canadians are deciding against buying electric vehicles. Experts point to several factors, including cost and a lack of charging stations. As Angela Jung reports, while EV sales have tripled in B.C., those in the industry aren't fully sold on targets to phase out gas-powered vehicles. – Apr 23, 2024

A new survey has found some of the charge may be draining from the electric vehicle boom in Canada, but B.C. may be bucking the trend.

The numbers come from Canada’s largest automotive marketplace,, and found buyers reported softening interest in EVs for the second year running.

“Back in 2022 we started out with 68 per cent of consumers saying they would be interested in buying an electric vehicle,” said Barish Akyurek, vice-president of incisive intelligence at

Click to play video: 'Electric vehicle sales slowing down'
Electric vehicle sales slowing down

“In 2023 it came down to 56 per cent and in 2024 it came down to 46 per cent.”

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Akyurek said would-be buyers’ biggest concern was about vehicle range (79 per cent), followed by a lack of charging stations (72 per cent) and high price (68 per cent).

Three-quarters of survey respondents said they didn’t believe Canada could meet its mandate of phasing out the sale of new fossil fuel vehicles by 2035.

While the national survey paints a gloomy picture for the push towards electrification, one B.C. auto dealer suggested they may not paint a full picture.

Areeb Zaman owns Flexcar Auto Group in Langley and told Global News demand in B.C. and the Lower Mainland remains strong.

He said new EVs are hot enough that the company only sells them through pre-order, and used vehicles remain popular.

Click to play video: 'B.C. adding 500 public EV charging stations to fill gaps in network'
B.C. adding 500 public EV charging stations to fill gaps in network

“Compared to Alberta or one of the other provinces, people may not be as inclined to buy EVs or hybrid vehicles, the facilities may not be there,” he said.

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“Lately it has been very busy, especially with electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles.”

Zaman said a PST exemption on used EVs and provincial and federal subsidies on new vehicles continue to appeal to shoppers.

He said buyers do remain concerned about range issues, which he said has contributed to models with better battery life moving far more quickly than others.

Statistics Canada data shows that B.C. continues to outperform other provinces in electric vehicle adoption.

In 2023, 20.2 new cars sold in the province were zero-emission vehicles, compared to 18.6 per cent in Quebec and 7.4 per cent in Ontario.

The 2023 figure in B.C. was up from 16.3 per cent in 2022, and more than double the 8.4 per cent registered in 2020.

Statistics Canada said 2023 was also the first time zero-emission vehicles accounted for more than one in 10 new car registrations.

Bob Porter, president of the Vancouver Electric Vehicle Association said he believes rising interest rates and the high cost of living may be contributing to would-be buyers’ concerns with going electric.

“It might be that people are a bit reluctant right now with all the costs involved in buying a brand new vehicle,” he said.

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First-time electric vehicle buyers, he acknowledged, do often share concerns about range and the availability of charging infrastructure.

Click to play video: 'B.C. making big investment in electric vehicle charging network'
B.C. making big investment in electric vehicle charging network

But he said modern batteries continue to improve, and the availability of charges has expanded massively.

The B.C. government estimates the province is currently home to about 5,000 fast-charging stations, and the province announced $30 million in funding last month to add 500 more.

“People who drive electric know where the chargers are, we have apps on our phones, and our cars tell us where the chargers are. Eighty-five per ent of your charting for most people is actually at home,” he said.

“Now that Tesla is opening up their chargers to Ford, GM, Toyota, Honda … they can actually use the infrastructure Tesla has. It’s massive, and it’s very efficient.”

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For those interested in an EV but concerned about the price, softening demand may actually turn out to be a good thing.

Akyurek said the price of a new EV fell by 17.9 per cent year-over-year, while the price of a used one dropped 11.4 per cent.

“When there is a lot of something and not a lot of interest on that thing, what happens?” he said.

“Prices start to come down.”

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