Jim Bray's Car & Tech rants - publishing online exclusively since 1995
Ford Mach E

Are Canadians really ready for Electric Vehicles?

By Jim Bray
October 19, 2023

Electric vehicles are supposedly languishing on dealers' lots, as the great unwashed masses apparently eschew electrified autos in favour of the evil gas-powered ones.

Why do you think this may be?

Well, according to a survey done for BrokerLink, a subsidiary of Intact Financial Corporation – which claims to be one of "Canada's largest property and casualty insurance brokerages" – it's because those great unwashed don't know what's good for them.

That may not quite be fair, but the survey does suggest that Canadians "need more education around EV ownership, insurance and infrastructure requirements." In other words, we're just not trying hard enough!

Actually, having read the press release touting the survey, it seems to these eyes that the Canadian people may just be a little smarter than those trying to usher them into the supposedly wonderful world of EV ownership.

"As it stands, Canadians seem to need more information about crucial aspects of EV ownership, such as infrastructure requirements and insurance implications," the press release reveals.

Here's a hint:

Eighty-nine per cent of respondents have concerns about the availability of charging infrastructure, while 84 per cent expressed range anxiety. That's as it should be, in my never humble opinion, because those are extremely valid concerns.

Only a quarter (24 per cent) of Canadians are currently familiar with EV auto insurance policies, while 82 per cent believe the type of car they drive affects their insurance premiums more than whether it's electric or gas-powered. I'm with them. I have no idea, either, and won't care until I'm shopping for an EV, which means probably never.

The survey also revealed that 71 per cent of Canadians who own gas-powered vehicles are reluctant to give them up. And, might I add, with very good reason. "Yet, six in ten (59 per cent) (of) Canadians, who don't currently have an EV, are excited to drive one in the future." Does that mean they want to own them, or just to experience them? I don't know.

I mean, you might want to date a famous athlete or supermodel, but do you want to marry him/her/it?

On the other hand, "the same proportion (59 per cent) of Canadians say they will consider an EV for their next vehicle purchase and nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) of Canadians say they want to drive an EV for environmental reasons, including to reduce their carbon emissions."

Which, as the climate scam teeters on the verge of collapse, proves that media manipulation works.

To me, the most compelling reason to go EV is to save money on carbon-taxed-to-the-max gasoline. But that isn't good enough.

According to Grant Clarke, Vice President, National Personal Insurance at BrokerLink, "the survey findings suggest there are significant gaps in people's understanding regarding the adoption of EVs in Canada."

I guess we just need more propaganda to push us into coal, hydroelectric, natural gas and nuclear-powered cars, since solar and wind-powered cars are at this point in history too ridiculous to contemplate.

"As we move towards the EV era, we wanted to capture insights to better understand Canadians' sentiment towards EVs, and gauge their knowledge around auto insurance policies for this vehicle type, which is why we commissioned the survey," Clarke said. This, of course, assumes we're heading into an EV era and that it isn't merely the "avant-goût du décennie".

Some of the chief concerns in folks' deciding to dump the "fossil fuel" dinosaurs in favour of unicorn farts include the initial expense (try finding an electric car that's the same price as a similarly-equipped evil Gaia raper), challenges with charging and infrastructure, the relative newness and immaturity of the technology (fair enough; hybrids used to suck but now I drive most of them without wearing a paper bag on my head), and concerns that the cost/benefits aren't there over the long term (which is valid because no one – not even the so-called "experts" has experience in the long term yet).

Slightly fewer Canadians say they're worried about the cost of insurance premiums on an EV.
They also mentioned the implications of whether or not there are government incentives or rebates.

Now, the press release didn't say if the respondents were hoping for incentives/rebates or angry that they're offered in the first place. This issue has always bothered me. My tax dollars, and yours, are given to folks who want an EV-compatible (the stuff has been offered on hybrids, too) vehicle, so they can "save the planet" or "save gas" or whatever.

Hey, want an EV? Knock yourself out. But pay for it yourself. Are you a free individual, or a leech?

As far as the insurance issues are concerned, some seem quite valid. "According to the survey, only a quarter (24 per cent) of Canadians are currently familiar with EV auto insurance policies, while two in ten (20 per cent) don't expect that an EV policy would have any specific benefits related to EVs." The top three concerns are coverage for battery-related repairs (I wonder if fire insurance would help here…), coverage for (I assume) home charging equipment, extra coverage for "specialized EV components" and whether or not the EV would be cheaper to insure than an ordinary evil automobile.

It seems, according to the survey, that we Frostbacks are more concerned about what we drive rather than about how it's powered. Eighty-two per cent think factors like "SUV, compact, or sports car classifications have a more significant impact on their insurance premiums compared to whether the vehicle is electric or gas-powered."   

Respondents also take into account the presence of safety features such as anti-theft devices (I wonder if the Brokers consider a manual transmission as an anti-theft device in this day and age), airbags, and all-wheel drive.

As for the credibility of survey itself, "the BrokerLink survey was conducted by Ipsos Canada from August 1-4, 2023. A total of 2,000 surveys were self-completed online by Canadian adults (age 18+), represented in six different regions (British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan/Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada), of whom 1,728 currently own/lease a vehicle or plan to purchase one within the next year."

So, it's another online poll, which I've always been taught means it's meaningless. On the other hand, "representative sample results are weighted to reflect the Canadian population. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within +/- 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, for the total sample of 2,000 Canadians and +/- 2.7 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, for the 1,728 Canadians who currently own/lease a vehicle or plan to purchase one within the next year. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population represented. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to, coverage error, and measurement error."

In other words, take all this with a big shaker of salt. You should do that with my opinions, too, and everyone's else.

Well, maybe not mine!

Want to buy an electric vehicle? Fine. My advice is that the current state of the art is fine for commuting to work and short trips. If you want to go on the road, however, you're far better served driving a nearly 20-year-old premium gas-guzzling all-wheel drive sports wagon than the latest E-SUV the powers that be are trying to force you into.

Don't believe me? Read my review of the Ford Mustang Mach E, published a few days more than two years ago. In it, I tried to take a day trip in the Mach E, was appalled by its range, and redid the trip about a week later in my 2005 Audi A4 Avant quattro. It was far cheaper (and a lot more fun!) to take the Audi than the Ford. And I drove the Audi for at least another week before I had to fill up (not that I drive it full-time…)

But the Ford would serve very well if I were just going around town.

I don't mean to slag Ford here, because the "Mockstang" is a nice vehicle, and is representative of the species across automotive brands. It's just that it's the latest one that I've driven.

The range issue will probably be solved over time, but that doesn't address the big issue: EV's may be fine, but today's gas-powered vehicles are super clean in their own right (thanks to governments pushing carmakers around for decades). And EV's aren't nearly as clean as they're touted to be, since we rarely hear about what's involved in mining and manufacturing all the batteries, etc.

Meanwhile, the world sits on oceans of oil just waiting to be extracted and refined by people whose jobs and families depend on such things. You know, your friends and neighbours, depending upon where you live.

Maybe someday we'll find an alternative for so-called "fossil fuels". And maybe the EV infrastructure will evolve into something that's actually practical. In the meantime, there's no reason for people to be stampeded into a new technology that's not only unproven, but proven (so far) to be less practical than what we have already.

Naturally, your mileage may vary.

Copyright 2023 Jim Bray

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