Geek looking at data

How Canada’s Industries Can Successfully Adapt to Electric Vehicle Consumer Adoption

Published Apr 29, 2022, 03:33 PM by Environics Analytics
See where industries now stand in meeting the Federal government mandate of new electric vehicle (EV) sales by 2035 and how they can leverage EV data moving forward


The Canadian government announced in June 2021 that all new light-duty cars and passenger trucks must be zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) or electric vehicles (EVs) by 2035, advancing the previous goal of 100% ZEV/EV sales by 2040. This is meant to support the country’s overall Net-Zero Emissions by 2050 objective to mitigate the impacts of climate change.

Changes across industries are already underway—from manufacturing and development plans to marketing and sales strategies.

All major Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) have shown some commitment to electric vehicles (EVs), with plans to make EVs a significant portion of their sales mix before 2035. However, OEMs are feeling the pressure of reaching 100% EV sales by that year.

Among consumers, EV adopters are changing the retail and real estate landscape, influencing what goes on store shelves and where EV charging stations need to be installed. This requires retailers to rethink their offerings and services to accommodate these new types of customers.

How can organizations in different industries communicate with Canadians about going net-zero? How can provincial governments, the energy sector and retailers build a better 2050 plan to get Canadians onboard?

Investing in EV data and analytics will be imperative to these industries and beyond.


What are the data telling us about EV adoption in Canada and the impact across industries?

Using Environics Analytics' EVTrends data, we can see that EV production has grown exponentially in the last three years.

What have OEMs, provincial governments and energy companies experienced so far, and where are they headed?

A bar chart showing the number of electric vehicle models by year from 2012 (3 models) to 2022 (107 models).

The bar chart above shows the number of EV models released in Canada between 2012 and 2022. It contains information licensed under the Open Government License – Canada.


The EV journey for OEMs

The number of battery-powered electric vehicle (BEV) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) models increased by 38% per year since 2012.

Back in 2012, three OEMs—Nissan, Mitsubishi and Chevrolet—each offered a single model in Canada (BEV or PHEV). These models were in the subcompact, compact and mid-size classes. Now, in 2022, there are 24 OEMs offering 107 models combined across a variety of classes and price points.

Understanding early and current EV buyers through segmentation will reveal opportunities for reaching new customers based on cost savings, behaviours and propensity to switch from fossil fuels to electric.


The EV journey for provincial governments

Provincial policies continue to change⁠—like the B.C. government and its mandates⁠—expediting pre-established targets. In 2020, the vast majority of ZEV registrations occurred in Quebec, Ontario, and B.C.

Analyzing EV purchase data and EV early adopter engagement in the market will help governments develop policies to enable continued growth. These data can also be leveraged to improve the effectiveness of government incentives and longer-term adoption.

Like segmenting EV buyers, provinces can use data analytics to segment residents by personas (i.e., EV Drivers, Potential Purchasers or No Interest) when planning outreach campaigns and communications to help shift purchaser behaviour.


The EV journey for the energy sector

The energy sector is talking to the various levels of government to support consumer adoption by reviewing electrical grids and other critical infrastructure. In particular, utility companies across Canada are evaluating their grids and considering what needs updating based on factors including the rapidly-expanding EV market. They are assessing urban and suburban areas, as well as towns and rural settings.

Concurrently, utility companies are gauging additional services and revenue opportunities within the EV market. Whether it is selling charging stations to commercial real estate and condo developers or focusing on individual homes and associated upgrades (service upgrades like rough-ins and power upgrades, insurance, etc.), these companies are continually searching for the areas with the biggest ROI.

There’s also the opportunity for utilities to align the sustainability aspect of their projects and initiatives as Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) concerns have become increasingly relevant, along with the types of partnerships they bring.

Partnerships between the energy companies and governments involve grid-load planning for regional and provincial infrastructures, which benefits from insights on where people live, how many of them own or intend to buy EVs and where they’ll need to charge their cars.

Analyzing quarterly trends through databases like EVTrends, combined with PRIZM® and demographics data, helps industries understand various consumers and populations for better communication and engagement.


How will EV charging stations impact surrounding locations and retail?

Gas stations are among the first vendors to offer charging stations to early EV adopters. Many locations have convenience stores attached to them, which is where we see interesting trends among customers.

Analyzing segments through PRIZM®, we see differences in the customers who visited gas station convenience stores before and after the addition of EV charging stations.

An infographic comparing gas station customer groups before and after EV charging. Before - Group 1: Suburban Sports, South Asian Society, Metro Melting Pot, and Stressed in Suburbia. After - Group 2: The A List, Multiculture-ish, and Modern Suburbia.

The image above uses the PRIZM® segmentation system to compare different customer segments visiting gas station convenience stores before and after the installation of EV charging stations.


With the shift in customer segments, we see that the variety of convenience store purchases changed.

EV charging stations seemed to welcome new segments from affluent backgrounds with the propensity to consume different selections of snacks and beverages. This makes sense given the price point of the first EVs on the market.


Where will the road ahead take us?

From our understanding of who is buying EVs, we know that there are numerous factors to consider when marketing products and modifying services to cater to new EV adopters.

But the EV conversation is ongoing and there is still lots to unpack.

KPMG’s 2022 auto poll shows Canadians have some reservations about owning EVs for several logistical reasons, including driving range on a full battery, the impact of weather conditions, maintenance, access to charging stations and other factors.

On the other hand, Canada may be at an EV turning point, according to a recent analysis by the CBC. There is growing consumer interest, but OEMs and auto dealerships aren’t quite keeping up with stocking and selling enough EVs. Soaring gas prices are helping to drive demand amongst consumers.

From an economic perspective, EVs have historically been expensive. To meet the mandated ZEV/EV goal by 2035, OEMs need to sell EVs at more accessible prices or offer improved financing programs that make it easier for consumers to own or lease EVs, which will help shift the makeup of consumer segments.

Conversely, if EVs continue to be expensive, there might be more consumer demand for used cars running on fossil fuels. To avoid this, it will be essential to learn from EV-leading provinces like Quebec and B.C. and invest in data that is available.

The road ahead is clear if industries leverage EV adoption data, looking at historical purchases, current trends and future projections, and applying insights into practice.

To learn more about how you can use EV data, contact us.


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