Canadians see electric vehicles becoming mainstream, soon. Environmental, fuel cost advantages widely perceived.

Canadians believe the future of consumer vehicle market will be defined by electric vehicles, and they hope it happens pretty quickly, according to the second in a series of exclusive polls by Abacus Data and Clean Energy Canada.

• Most (64%) say that if it were up to them, electric cars would become the majority of vehicles that consumers drive at some point in the future. And even more (72%) say that this is bound to happen at some point.

• The desire to see electric cars eclipse gasoline-powered vehicles is stronger among younger people and outside Alberta, but even half of Albertans, 54% of the Silent Generation, and 46% of Conservative voters say they would like to see this happen.

• Asked how long it will take for this shift to occur, 71% predict it will happen in 15 years or less, including 56% who say it will happen in 10 years or less.

• Asked what the ideal timing for this shift would be, 79% hope it happens in 10 years or less, including about half (49%) who would like to see it within 5 years.

• If they were buying a new car, more consumers would lean towards an electric vehicle, rather than a gas model. 10% say they are certain they would buy an electric vehicle, and another 14% say they are very likely to.

• The growth in interest in electric vehicles appears to be happening for several reasons. Very large majorities see climate and air quality upsides to electric vehicles compared to gasoline-powered cars. But now 2 out of 3 people also see fuel cost advantages for electric vehicles. On none of the criteria tested, including maintenance cost, reliability, and driving enjoyment, do gasoline-powered cars enjoy a significant perception advantage.

• Among the factors that would be important in influencing more people to consider an electric vehicle, at the top of the list is knowing that there are more charging stations and that charging time is quick. Many also say that knowing fuel and maintenance costs are lower for electric vehicles, and improvements to batter technology would be important to them.

• Majorities support governments offering rebates or purchase incentives to encourage the purchase of electric vehicles and investing public funds to strengthen recharging infrastructure. Less than 15% would oppose either of those measures. Support for both cuts across regional, generational and party lines.


“Canadians are excited about electric cars and the chance to cut both fuel costs and pollution. It’s a win-win for commuters, and it’s why both interest—and perception of inevitability—keeps growing. More and more Canadians want to choose electric for their next vehicle, and governments have the opportunity to make it easier for them to make that choice through purchase rebates or tax incentives and by investing in charging infrastructure. The federal government has ambitious but achievable targets for getting more electric cars on the road. Now they need to support Canadians’ desire to make it happen.”

—Dan Woynillowicz, Policy Director, Clean Energy Canada

“The first electric car was invented before Ford’s Model T, and then growth in the technology stalled out for about a hundred years. But the confluence of concerns about climate change, air quality, and a sense that the technology is both greatly improved and more affordable suggest that the world may be poised for a remarkable acceleration of electric vehicles. Public policy can play a major role in the pace of this change – with charging infrastructure high up on the list of things that governments can do. Skepticism about electric vehicles may have been a good bet for the last 20 years, but skeptics may want to hedge that bet now.”

—Bruce Anderson, Chairman, Abacus Data


The survey was conducted online with 1,495 Canadian residents aged 18 and over, from March 11th to 13th, 2019.

A random sample of panelists were invited to complete the survey from a set of partner panels based on the Lucid exchange platform. These partners are typically double opt-in survey panels, blended to manage out potential skews in the data from a single source.

The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of the same size is +/- 2.45%, 19 times out of 20. The data were weighted according to census data to ensure that the sample matched Canada’s population according to age, gender, educational attainment, and region. Totals may not add up to 100 due to rounding.

Dan Woynillowicz is available for interviews.

Trevor Melanson
Communications Manager

Bruce Anderson
Abacus Data

Clean Energy Canada is a climate and energy think tank housed at the Centre for Dialogue at Simon Fraser University. We work to accelerate our nation’s transition to a clean and renewable energy system.


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