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New Survey Reveals Canadians Hesitant About Switching to Electric and Self-Driving Cars

April 10, 2018
4 mins
Professional couple in grey vehicle

Cars are a pivotal part of many Canadians' identities. A recent Ipsos poll showed more than three-quarters of Canadians felt their car reflected who they are and 55% were passionate about all kinds of automobiles. It may not be surprising, then, that those polled were a bit hesitant about changing their ways and embracing vehicles that stray from the tried and true, such as electric and self-driving cars.

Plugging into Opinions on Electric Cars

Ipsos polled 1,000 Canadians and found, overall, they felt positively about electric cars (72%). Despite that, many Canadians are hesitant to follow through when it comes to buying one themselves. Just 5% say they are interested in buying an electric vehicle, while 28% may consider it as an option.

So why are Canadians so hesitant to adopt electric cars? There are some key findings in the survey that may provide clues:

  • 88% said they worried about finding a charging station in public
  • 84% said they worried about finding a qualified mechanic
  • 81% said they worried about increased electricity bills at home
  • 78% said they worried about durability
  • 79% said they worried about reliability

Provincial Programs Encourage Electric Car Purchases

There are more than 47,000 electric vehicles on the road in Canada according to FleetCarma with Quebec drivers leading the charge, followed by Ontario and British Columbia. All three provinces offer purchasing incentives, including up to $14,000 off eligible vehicles for Ontarians, if they switch to electric.

These three provinces also have the highest numbers of public charging stations. British Columbia has more than 1,000 public charging stations, Quebec has about 1,250 public stations and there are approximately 1,300 in Ontario. Ontario also has the Electric Vehicle Charging Incentive, which offers funding to offset the costs associated with installing a home charging station.

Many Still Doubtful About Driverless Cars

Self-driving cars have been at the forefront of the news recently after a woman was hit and killed by a self-driving Uber in Arizona. Now the safety of these vehicles has been called into question. This Ipsos poll was taken before this event and, at the time of the survey, 55% of Canadians felt positive about self-driving cars. Given the headlines the Arizona incident generated, it will be interesting to see whether this trend of increased trust in driverless vehicles continues.

The Ipsos survey also shows Canadians genuinely prefer to be in the driver seat. The survey showed 69% of people would rather personally drive their car, while 31% would consider switching to a self-driving vehicle.

About half of Canadians think in 10 years there will be the same number of self-driving vehicles on the road as personally-driven cars. Price may be a driver, however, as 44% of Canadians said they'd give up the wheel if autonomous cars were cheaper. Lower insurance premiums come into this too: 54% feel that owning a self-driving vehicle will mean lower auto insurance premiums. This is already the case, to a certain degree; semi-autonomous features like AEB (Automatic Emergency Braking) have captured the attention of insurers and there’s at least one company (Aviva Canada) that offers a discount of up to 15% on their auto insurance for vehicle’s equipped with AEB.

Patrick Faller

Patrick is a writer, creative media producer, and award-winning journalist with a love of technology, the arts, and design. He’s passionate about consumer affairs and helping Canadians make the best possible choices when it comes to their finances. You can find him on social media @patfaller.

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