Canadian Black Book’s (CBB), annual Ipsos research study indicates, with Canadians driving less, their purchase intentions have diminished as well. The CBB research shows that fully three quarters of Canadians are driving less since the pandemic began. Those spending less time on the road due to working from home of remote learning, have cut back on their driving by nearly 50% on average, compared to pre-pandemic. “This reduction in total kilometres driven by Canadians, brought on by the pandemic, has certainly had an impact on the industry, which our research clearly shows. The resultant differences in automotive buying and shopping trends and attitudes over the past twelve months are considerable, which perhaps goes without saying. However, they are very interesting to note and may help some industry people think different about 2021 and beyond,” said David Robins, Principle Automotive Analyst and Head of Canadian Vehicle Valuations at CBB.

Some of the findings are listed below; 

EVs Flattening  

With many Canadians feeling no great need to buy a new vehicle any time soon, it follows that intent to buy alternative energy vehicles in the near term has also decreased. Three in ten (30%) say it’s likely they would buy a BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle) or a PHEV (Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle) in the next five years (9% very/21% somewhat). This number is significantly down from last year, when 37% expressed intent to by an EV.  Those in Quebec (35%) and Ontario (31%) are most likely to buy EVs in that time-frame, while the Prairie Provinces are less likely with Saskatchewan/Manitoba at 21% and Alberta at 22% respectively.   

How do Public Transit and Ride Sharing Fare?  

As Canadians look ahead to 2021 through the lens of the pandemic and an economic recession, it seems that not only will many Canadians be driving less, but they will also be less likely to use other means of getting around – especially those that involved shared spaces. Nearly half (45%) say they will be less likely (29% much less/15% somewhat less) to use public transit in 2021, rising to 50% of those aged 18-34. Meanwhile, more than four in ten (42%) say they will be less likely (30% much less/12% somewhat less) to use ride-sharing services over the next 12 months. 

The survey finds that ride-sharing services such as Uber or Lyft are at significant risk as the pandemic drags on. Asked to consider the pandemic and economic recession, nearly half of Canadians (46%) say they are less likely (36% much less/11% somewhat less) to use ride-sharing services. 

Buying During a Pandemic 

Though the current climate has unquestionably had a huge impact on how Canadians approach major purchases, some decisions are less likely to be affected. When it comes to buying their next vehicle, three in four Canadians (75%) say that the current economic situation has no impact on whether they are more likely to buy new or used. Those who do feel an impact from the economic climate are more likely to say they would lean more toward buying a used vehicle (16%) than a new one (10%). 

About one in four Canadians (26%) agree (6% strongly/20% somewhat) that the pandemic has made them more willing to shop for and purchase a vehicle completely online, though a majority (74%) disagree, preferring to see in-person what they’re buying.

Does the Carbon Tax Change Purchase Behaviour?  

The federal government has recently announced that the carbon tax will be increased over the next decade, which will cause fuel prices to increase by 38 cents a liter. It’s a move that could potentially spur movement toward more fuel-efficient cars, less car ownership, and increased use of shared transit methods. The survey finds that though intentions toward more environmentally friendly modes of transit are lukewarm in 2021 (due in large part to the ongoing uncertainty caused by the pandemic), when made aware of the looming rise in fuel prices, Canadians’ resolve to become more fuel-efficient in the next five years strengthens significantly:



More Likely 


In 2021 

In the Next 5 Years 

Buy smaller or more fuel-efficient vehicles 



Buy alternative-fuel vehicles 



Reduce the number of vehicles your household owns 



Use public transit 



Use ride-sharing services 



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