Wait times for some EVs still long in Canada. Why it’s the opposite in the U.S.

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Consumer Matters: Electric vehicle demand continues to grow
WATCH: With the high price of gas, many drivers are hoping to go electric. But wait times in this country for certain EV models are still very long. But what might surprise you is, just across the border there's a healthy supply of EVs. Consumer Matters reporter Anne Drewa explains the factors at play. – Sep 18, 2023

David Sandelands is one of the lucky ones. The B.C. resident just received his electric Hyundai IONIQ 5 after waiting a year and a half.

“We took it for a nice road trip and it performed immaculate,” Sandelands told Global’s Consumer Matters.

While industry analysts say certain car brands like Tesla and Polestar are available with little to no wait times, other EV models require some patience.

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“EV wait times in Eastern Canada and in B.C., which are the provinces where demand is the highest, are still long. People are telling us they are waiting six months to a year, in some cases a year and a half, before their vehicle comes in,” said Georgy Iny, director of the non-profit Automobile Protection Association.

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“Hyundai EVs are tough to get, Kia EVs are hard to get. The Ford Mustang has improved and the pickups have long delivery delays as well,” added Iny.

One of the more difficult EVs to get right now is the Toyota plug-in hybrid.

“Anything Toyota makes, because they are such leaders in fuel efficient vehicles, is very long,” said Motormouth YouTube channel’s Zack Spencer.

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Still, Spencer says B.C. is at an advantage when it comes to the EV market because of the province’s Zero-Emission Vehicles Act (ZEV act).

“The good news for British Columbians is we have a zero-emission vehicle mandate and by law they have to supply electric vehicles into the market or the car companies pay penalties,” he said.

“So, more EVs are being shipped to B.C. and Quebec than anywhere else in the country.”

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However, in the United States, it is a much different story.

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Analysts at Cox Automotive say compared to one year ago, EV inventory has more than doubled, as new EV products have become available. EV models like Hyundai, Subaru, Toyota and Volkswagen dealers are holding EV inventory between 80 and 100 days, about average it says for EVs.

Sam Fiorani, vice-president of global vehicle forecasting at U.S.-based AutoForecast Solutions, says a lot of the manufacturers have built up inventory levels for the U.S. anticipating demand that hasn’t shown up.

“We are still waiting through the early adopters, but the mass-market buyers aren’t showing up yet,” Fiorani said. “Tens of thousands of vehicles are sitting around without buyers.”

The difference in inventory between Canada and the U.S. may come down to consumer behavior.

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“It seems that the Canadian buyer is a bit more ‘green’ than the U.S., where Americans are hard and fast for internal combustion engines and the Canadian buyer seems to be a little bit more open to the benefits of owning an electric vehicle,” Fiorani said.

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“It’s a cultural difference, but it’s also a gas price difference because it’s so significantly higher in your [Canada] area than it is on average in the United States.”

While there may be more EVs parked at U.S. dealership lots, that likely won’t help would-be Canadian buyers.

“You cannot buy a brand new vehicle in the United States and bring it across the border. There are dealer agreements between the manufacturers and the dealers that they are not going to sell to people outside of their country — it’s just not allowed,” Spencer explained.

“There are penalties against the dealer for selling to a non-resident. You can get around that by having someone you know buy it, transfer it into your ownership as a used vehicle and bring it back across the border. That can be done,” he added.

Spencer’s advice to prospective EV buyers remains to order one and wait.

“There will be people that will back out of a deal and you might get a car quicker because of that, or you can go to the secondary market,” Spencer said.

“I think there are people who are just going to walk away from the car they ordered 18 months ago because they just can’t afford the difference in interest rates right now.”


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