Canadians Slow to Embrace Electric and Self-Driving Cars, Reveals New Survey

Canadians are deeply connected to their vehicles. In a recent Ipsos poll about three-quarters of people felt their ride reflects their identity and more than half are passionate about automobiles of all sorts. But the survey also showed that burning passion goes a bit lukewarm when Canadians are asked about self-driving and electric cars.

Canadians still uncertain about self-driving cars

The survey, called Canadian Attitudes on Automobiles, found that more than half (55 per cent) of the Canadians surveyed feel self-driving cars are a positive in society, though 69 per cent would prefer to drive their own car. If, however, autonomous cars were cheaper to own and maintain than personally driven cars, only 44 per cent say they would stay in the driver's seat.

That’s not to say Canadians don't see a future in self-driving cars. About half (49 per cent) believe in 10 years’ time, there will be the same number of self-driving cars on the streets as there are vehicles driven by people. And many Canadians (54 per cent) think self-driving vehicles could mean cheaper auto insurance, too.

This is already an emerging trend in Canada with vehicles equipped with semi-autonomous features. Aviva Canada, for example, offers an auto insurance discount of up to 15 per cent to drivers of vehicles with AEB (automatic emergency braking).

Despite some hesitations, confidence in driverless technology is rising

It seems that Canadians have had a shift in attitude towards self-driving cars over the past year. Just over a year ago, Kanetix undertook a similar survey, which showed only 26 per cent of Canadians like the idea of driverless cars (compared to Ipsos’ 31 per cent), with Quebecers being the most on board. At the time, those in the Kanetix.ca survey said they had faith in the future technology and thought it could help to minimize distracted driving, collisions, and improve pedestrian/cyclist safety.

While it seems that over the past year more Canadians have hopped on board with the idea of self-driving cars, both surveys took place before the recent accident involving a self-driving Uber car in the USA. The news made headlines, and the incident could change people's impressions on how safe these vehicles are.

Electric cars spark interest

The interest in electric cars is a bit higher than that for driverless vehicles. Of the Canadians surveyed, 72 per cent have generally positive thoughts on electric cars. But, in terms of following through on that interest, Canadians fall flat. The Ipsos survey showed only 5 per cent are interested in getting an electric car for their next buy and 28 per cent say they’re on the fence.

The Ipsos survey found that Canadians have a variety of concerns about using electronic vehicles which may play a role in their lack of interest in actually owning one:

  • 88 per cent are worried about finding a charging station in public
  • 84 per cent are worried about finding a proper mechanic for their electric vehicle
  • 81 per cent are worried about increased home electricity bills

At the moment, there are about 47,800 electric vehicles on Canadian roads according to FleetCarma and the majority of those are in Quebec, Ontario, and British Columbia. All three provinces offer incentives to save car buyers thousands of dollars if they get an electric car and have an ever-increasing number of charging stations; there are more than 1,250 public stations in Quebec, 1,300 in Ontario, and roughly 1,000 in British Columbia.


Are you as passionate about saving money, as you are about your car? No matter what you drive, Kanetix.ca can help you take to the roads for less. We work with more than 50 of Canada’s top insurance companies to help you find the best car insurance rate available. Compare quotes today for a lower auto insurance rate.