Wait times growing for Canadians wanting to purchase electric vehicles

Electric vehicle searches have gone up considerably in Canada with gas prices remaining high, but some are having to wait months before they can buy their new EV. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

More and more people are becoming interested in purchasing an electric vehicle (EV) as gas prices remain strong across Canada.

However, some are having to wait a while before they can get behind the wheel of an EV.

A recent survey conducted by AutoTrader, which refers to itself as Canada’s largest automotive marketplace, found that about two in three Canadians are considering purchasing an EV for their next vehicle.

Baris Akyurek, director of marketing intelligence for AutoTrader, said there was quite a bit of interest in EVs even before the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, the pandemic and rising gas prices have increased interest even further in recent months.

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“(EV) searches went up by 89 per cent nationally on a year-over-year basis. And when we looked at the number of inquiries sent to dealerships about EVs, that went up by 567 per cent on a year-over-year basis. So consumers are saying that they would consider EVs for their next purchase,” said Akyurek.

Akyurek mentioned how in 2020 only 3.2 per cent of all vehicle sales in Canada were EVs. In 2021, that number increased to 5.6 per cent.

While he expects that number to rise even more by the end of 2022, Akyurek also realizes there are factors in play that are causing purchasing delays for some.

Those factors include supply chain issues and the rising demand to go electric.

“There’s an ongoing chip shortage, a semiconductor shortage in the market, and that impacts the entire industry regardless of what type of engine the vehicle has, whether it’s EV or internal combustion engine,” Akyurek added.

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Tim Burrows is a board member with the Electric Vehicle Society in Ontario. He also runs a monthly webinar named Canada Talks Electric Cars which examines a broad range of electric vehicle-related topics from a Canadian perspective.

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Burrows said that the recent delays to buy a new EV are having people wait a few months or even a year in some instances.

“Electric car sales were already escalating at a good pace and at a fast enough rate that some automotive producers were scrambling to just keep up with the pace then. But now there’s been sort of fuel put on that and it’s really accelerating,” stated Burrows.

He said that wait times to buy an EV new are not uncommon in Canada, but available inventory tends to go to provinces that have implemented a provincial incentive program.

While the federal government offers a $5,000 rebate for many electric vehicle models, provinces like British Columbia, Quebec and some of Atlantic Canada have added to that incentive.

“For manufacturers, if they only have a limited quantity of inventory to ship to Canada, they will probably often give priority to those provinces that have electric vehicle incentives,” he mentioned.

Burrows said while it can be frustrating for interested EV buyers to have to wait for a vehicle they want to purchase, he suggested it could be an opportunity for people to do more research so they can nail down the vehicle that best suits their needs.

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“People can do their homework, understand what is involved and really get to appreciate the benefits of having an electric vehicle before they even can get one,” he noted.

“I speak with a lot of folks who have switched over to EVs. Once they do make that jump, they’re pretty darn happy with it and they don’t ever think they’d ever go back.”

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