Canadians say they’re ditching combustion engines amid surging gas prices

22 March 2022 2 min. read
More news on

Sixty-one percent of Canadians say soaring gas prices and vulnerability in oil supply have convinced them it’s time to buy an electric vehicle (EV), according to a survey from consulting firm KPMG.

Of the 1,005 Canadians polled in the March 2022 survey, 19% said gas prices changed their mind on buying a battery-electric vehicle (BEV) or plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), and that they hadn’t considered buying one before.

More than half (51%) of Canadians said they won’t buy a gas-powered vehicle again. This figure was even higher in BC (63%) and among younger consumers (60% of 25-to-34-year-olds).

“The poll results show that rising fuel prices are a big catalyst in changing Canadian attitudes towards EVs," said Peter Hatges, national automotive sector leader, KPMG Canada. "Canadians were already on edge about the spike in inflation and are now afraid soaring gas prices will make it impossible to balance their budgets. Buying an EV will allow them to take some control by reducing their fuel and maintenance costs."

Canadians say they’re ditching combustion engines amid surging gas prices

A whopping 47% of respondents said they were buying an EV right away, even though it may take a year to receive the car because of supply chain issues. Meanwhile, 6% said they ordered an EV in the last month.

Nearly half (48%) of Canadians said they are buying an EV because they don’t believe gas prices will ever normalize again, and 30% said they regretted not having already bought an electric car.

This variety of survey, however, tends to suffer from a healthy amount of social desirability bias. More than half of Canadians refusing to purchase a new gas-powered vehicle again is a pie-in-the-sky expectation, even if the price of gasoline remains elevated indefinitely.

Looking at real world figures, BEVs and PHEVs accounted for 4.6% of new vehicle registrations in Canada in the first quarter of 2021, according to Statistics Canada.

Unfortunately, BEVs and PHEVs remain significantly more expensive than conventional vehicles, with the average price of an EV at US$56,000 compared to the overall industry average of US$46,000, according to Kelley Blue Book.

For upper-middle-class and upper-class consumers, buying an EV like a Tesla is a simple proposition and even a status symbol. But in an environment of heavy inflation and with working-class wages failing to keep pace, even a rusted, used, gas-powered sedan is becoming an out-of-reach luxury for many Canadians.