SUDBURY —
Nearly seven in 10 Canadians who plan to buy a new vehicle in the next five years are looking to go electric.

That’s according to a new survey from KPMG, which found consumers are shifting to either pure electric vehicles or hybrid models.

The survey is no surprise to Patrick Pierobon, a sales representative at Belanger Ford, who also does the ordering.

“A lot of the automakers, going forward, in the very near future are talking about have some vehicles with some sort of electrification,” said Pierobon. “Whether it’s a mild hybrid system, or a plug-in system or where everybody is going to complete EV, electrified vehicle, the numbers are not surprising at all.”

Pierobon said some of his clientele are still looking for 100 per cent gas-powered vehicles, but once they see the benefits electrification provides, people start leaning in that direction.

“Not only are you getting the fuel efficiency, you’re getting a substantial boost in performance,” he said.

The survey found men were more inclined to buy an EV than women (73 per cent versus 62 per cent respectively). Nearly four in five (79 per cent) of those aged 18-44 said they are very likely or likely to buy an EV within the next five years, compared to 58 per cent of those aged 45 and older.

“There’s a lot of conversations around a lot of tables in the north in regards to electric vehicles being economically viable, as well as being a reliable way to go into the future,” said ReThink Green’s David St. Georges.

“It is a younger mentality that is being transitioned, which is great. So now that we’re finally seeing that breakthrough, it’s a nice surprise.”

The City of Greater Sudbury has been seeing more purchases of electric vehicles. Charging hubs have been placed at the Walmart on Long Lake Road and at a Petro Canada on Regent Street.

Charging infrastructure

Some of that charging infrastructure is in Ward 9 Coun. Deb McIntosh’s ward.

“This is all a part of getting a whole bunch of pieces that need to move forward to get to net-zero by 2050 and we can’t do it alone — there has to be the entire community,” said McIntosh.

The South End politician said she’s seeing more EV vehicles — her neighbours drive electric. She’s also thinking her family’s next purchase may be electric, as well.

“My neighbours don’t have a problem and they drive by all the time,” McIntosh said. “Our regular cars don’t start at -40, so how could they be any different? I think that’s the same thing and they do appear to work here in northern Ontario.”

It’s not all great news, and the survey found there are some people with lingering doubts about electric vehicles.

The survey found 83 per cent of Canadians believe automakers should be required to invest in national charging infrastructure; 89 per cent want to see charging stations at every gas station, shopping mall and grocery store; 60 per cent are worried about the high cost 51 per cent the limited driving range and, 30 per cent about the battery’s lifespan.

The doubts don’t come as a surprise to Devin Arthur, chapter president of the Electric Vehicle Association of Greater Sudbury.

Financial benefits

“I think the government could play a greater role in dispelling those myths and educating people on just the financial benefits of switching and as well the environmental benefits,” Arthur said.

Arthur, who drives an electric vehicle himself, said he’s not surprised to see them catching on with people. He said things like the infrastructure in the province has greatly improved.

He now can take his car to Toronto with confidence in knowing that he’ll be able to make it back north again.

“I would say last year there was a rather large expansion of charging stations, especially in northern Ontario,” Arthur said. “IV Charge, which is a partnership between OPG and Hydro One, have really focused on northern Ontario, which is really good to say.”

CTV News reached out to the Ministry of Transportation about the survey. We were issued the following statement from the MTO that reads, in part:

“Ontario continues moving forward with several initiatives to support the uptake of electric vehicles across the province, such as through recent investments in EV manufacturing and establishing requirements for reserved EV parking.

“We also committed in the draft Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan to removing regulatory barriers that block private investors from deploying low-carbon refueling infrastructure that will help increase the uptake of electric, hydrogen, and other low-carbon vehicles.”

For now, it’s business as usual at Belanger Ford and that business moving ahead into the future is looking green.

“I think within the next 10 years, every vehicle that will be sold in North America is going to have an electrified aspect to it,” said Pierobon

Pierobon figures the number of interested consumers will soon rise to 100 per cent in the coming years.

It’s also positive news for the local economy. Experts say those electric batteries are going to need nickel and a lot of that could be coming from here in northern Ontario. 





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