Ready or not?

March 28, 2022

I interviewed some of Canada’s best-known dealers for a segment for the virtual CADA Summit held last month. 

It was a fun, lighthearted piece to help break up the day, and inject some dealer content into the event. One of the questions I posed to the dealers was: gasoline or electric? The results were interesting.

Of the eight dealers I interviewed, 5 said gasoline, two said electric, and one kind of dodged the answer by saying hybrid, which in effect is a gasoline vehicle with some available electric power.

So by my rough math, 60%+ of the dealers in this highly unscientific sample said they preferred gasoline vehicles.

It’s not surprising that dealers who have been “car guys and gals” for their entire careers and have made a good living selling gasoline vehicles, would feel this way. 

When we look at their responses, our little dealer focus group sheds some light on how these dealers really feel. 

  • “Gasoline. All the way!” (New Brunswick) 
  • “Electric. I mean it’s the future. We need to do something for our planet, so definitely electric.” (Quebec)
  • “Hybrid, the best of both worlds.” (Quebec)
  • “I believe in electric—but I’m still not there.” (Ontario)
  • “Having driven an electric car in the last year—electric. They are fast. I really like it.” (Manitoba)
  • “I live on the Prairies, so when we plug in an electric we are burning coal. It’s not very good at 40 below zero, so for sure gasoline. (Saskatchewan)
  • “Gasoline, but some hybrid as well.” (Alberta)
  • “My mind and conscience want to say electric, but we can’t get any of those in any of our brands these days. Besides, I think my loins probably want to say gas. There’s nothing like driving a hemi supercharger.” (B.C.)

Despite the fact that many of their brands are going all in on electric, many dealers aren’t there yet, or frankly just like the experience of driving a gasoline vehicle. The objections they raised, about EVs not being good cold weather vehicles, or just liking the thrill of driving a gasoline vehicle are also going to be common objections their customers will raise in the near future.

My advice for dealers would be this: “Fake it until you make it!” 

Your sales teams will take their cues from you about what really matters at your dealerships, and whether electric vehicles are going to be a real foundational part of your business. If the boss doesn’t care about selling EVs, then you aren’t likely going to push too hard selling them and trying to overcome the objections of your customers.

And despite surveys where a majority of Canadians say they would consider buying an electric vehicle—71 per cent said so in a recent survey from the research firm KPMG—they don’t tend to back that up yet with actual purchases.

As our columnist Darren Slind reports in this issue, zero emissions vehicles still only represent 1 in 20 new vehicles sold in Canada in 2021. 

We are at the steep part of the curve trending up towards electric vehicle adoption and replacement, and each of us will come to our own conclusions based on our own lifestyle and driving habits. But as gasoline prices continue to soar, I’m looking at my beloved pickup truck in the driveway and am starting to imagine where I’m going to run the power to plug in its replacement.

About Todd Phillips

Todd Phillips is the editorial director of Universus Media Group Inc. and the editor of Canadian auto dealer magazine. Todd can be reached at

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