Toronto, ON, May 14, 2019 — With summer approaching, minds are turning towards ice cream, the beach, and road trips with family or friends. However, with the rising price of gas, are places such as the Cabot Trail or the Sea to Sky Highway in danger of seeing less traffic this summer as Canadians reconsider their plans to hit the road? A recent poll by Ipsos on behalf of Toyota Canada has revealed that almost half (47%) of Canadian adults say they are less likely (31% somewhat/16% much) to take a road trip this summer due to high gas price.
With 8 in 10 (82%) Canadians having a driver’s license and access to at least one automobile, it is no surprise that Canadians love to explore their vast country by car. But will sky-high gas prices (recently approaching $1.69 per litre in some parts of BC) put the brakes on a country that loves being on the move?
Paying Beyond the Pump
For many, higher gas prices affect their everyday lives in more ways than just paying more at the pump. Over half (56%) of Canadians say that rising gas prices have impacted their household finances (23% a lot/33% quite a bit), with those in Quebec (62%) and 18-34 year-olds (62%) feeling the pinch more than average. The top ways in which households have been affected by paying more for gas include:
- Cutting back on the amount of driving around town they do (44%; 35% in Quebec)
- Not being able to save as much money (37%; 27% in Quebec)
- Cutting back on costs such as dining out and entertainment (29%; 19% in Quebec)
- No longer planning vacations involving a lot of driving (23%; 12% in Quebec)
- Adding on to their debt (19%; 9% in Quebec)
Life is a Highway
Going on an extended road trip is one of the pleasures of Canadian summer, yet over half (54%) of Canadians say that they are not likely (31% not very/23% not at all) to take a vacation involving extended driving this summer, with those in Alberta slightly more wedded to the idea of going on a long road trip over the summer (43% not likely; 25% not very/18% not at all).
When asked more specifically about the effects of high gas prices on their summer plans, 47% say that higher gas prices have made them less likely (31% much/16% somewhat) to take a road trip, with those in Saskatchewan and Manitoba being the least likely (56%; 43% somewhat/13% less). The biggest die-hard fans of the summer road trip live in Quebec and Alberta; 45% in each province said the rising gas prices had no impact on their likelihood to go on a road trip this summer.
While many Canadians may be staying at home instead of being out on the road, those who do decided to go on a trip involving a lot of driving might be in for a rude surprise when all the fuel costs start adding up. In fact, 2 in 10 (20%) do not estimate fuel costs as part of their budget when planning a road trip, a proportion that rises to a quarter (25%) when talking about both those living in Quebec and those aged 55 and over.
Driving Towards A Fuel-Efficient Future
Canadians who are affected by high gas prices and still love to drive are starting to turn to more fuel-efficient automobiles as the try to get those extra kilometers out of each penny of fuel. In fact, 1 in 10 (12%) mentioned that they have bought or are planning to buy a more fuel-efficient vehicle as a direct result of rising gas prices. For other Canadians, they may be driven to more fuel-efficient vehicles through other means, but their desire for a car that gives them fuel efficiency at a low price is unmistakable.
Half (51%) of Canadians rank price as the most important consideration when either purchasing or considering purchasing a vehicle, which climbs to 58% among those aged 55 and over. In addition, fuel efficiency is Canadians’ second-highest concern (20%), with 27% of those in Atlantic Canada naming it as the most important consideration when considering a car purchase. Rounding out the top three consideration is performance (15%), with 18-34 year-olds being slightly more concern about this factor than the national average (20%).
With recent unstable gas prices and government incentives, fuel-efficient vehicles been the focus of much attention and are an attractive option for many Canadians who are in the market for a new car. Over a third (36%) have considered (16% seriously/21% quite a bit) buying a more fuel-efficient vehicle, such as a hybrid electric, plug-in hybrid electric, or fuel cell vehicle; this figure masks variation by region, ranging from 29% in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba to 40% in Quebec.
Over the longer term, over half (52%) say that they are likely (17% very/35% somewhat) to buy a more fuel-efficient vehicle in the next five years, reaching 59% among those aged 18-34 (21% very/38% somewhat). Although the summer tradition of piling into the car for a long road trip may not be in danger of going away anytime soon, in the near future it may have to include stops at electric charging stations.
About the Study
These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between May 3 and 6, 2019, on behalf of Toyota Canada. For this survey, a sample of 2,005 Canadians aged 18+ was interviewed online via the Ipsos I-Say panel. Quota sampling and weighting were employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ±2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadian adults been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.
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Ipsos is an independent market research company controlled and managed by research professionals. Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos has grown into a worldwide research group with a strong presence in all key markets. Ipsos ranks fourth in the global research industry. With offices in 89 countries, Ipsos delivers insightful expertise across five research specializations: brand, advertising and media; customer loyalty; marketing; public affairs research; and survey management. Ipsos researchers assess market potential and interpret market trends. They develop and build brands. They help clients build long-term relationships with their customers. They test advertising and study audience responses to various media and they measure public opinion around the globe. Ipsos has been listed on the Paris Stock Exchange since 1999 and generated global revenues of €1,780.5 million in 2017.