Electric vehicles sales update Q1 2018, Canada

 In Electric Vehicle News

We’re off to a great start as we jump into a new year of electric vehicle (EV) sales in Canada. That’s no small statement considering all previous quarters in 2017 were record-breaking. By year-end, electric vehicle sales had climbed to 19,000 new electric vehicles for the year. Moreover, 10,000 of those EVs we’re fully-electric battery electric vehicles (BEV). The rest, 9,000 plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV). Those numbers equated to an annual increase in electric vehicle sales of 75% in Canada. After the first quarter of 2018, many are looking to see if the growth seen in 2017 is a fluke or a sign of things to come. Let’s do a deep dive into the sales for Q1 of 2018 to illuminate the current state of electric vehicle sales in Canada.


  • Q1-2018 EV sales have increased 75% compared to Q1-2017
  • The EV portion of Vehicle sales is up to 1.5% (4.8% of passenger cars) Canada-wide
  • Chevrolet BOLT EV (581) became the most sold BEV in Q1, beating the Nissan Leaf (505)
  • Chevrolet VOLT (1,008) remains the undisputed plug-in EV, next challenger Prius Prime (659)
  • Quebec EV sales have increased the most, up 83% Q1’17 vs Q1’18. (Ontario +82%, BC +58%)

A year-over-year comparison of total monthly electric vehicle sales in Canada illustrates just how promising the first-quarter of 2018 is. Off to a slightly-slower start in January, EV sales for February and March are demonstrating the same strong momentum which was set in 2017. When comparing the first quarter of 2018 sales figures to the previous years first quarter we can see a dramatic year over year increase in electric vehicle sales. Total plug-in electric vehicle sales for January through March totaled 6,600 units. Of those vehicles approximately 4,000 were plug-in electric (PHEV), another 2,600 were battery electric (BEV). This represents a 34% increase in the number of BEV models and a 120% increase in the number of PHEV models sold this time last year. Altogether, Q1 2018 EV sales have increased 75% compared to Q1 2017.

Provincial EV sales

Looking at a Provincial breakdown of electric vehicle sales, we see that the usual suspects are leading the charge toward EV adoption. Ontario leads the Provinces with nearly 2,700 EV sales for the quarter, an increase of 82% compared to the previous year. Quebec with nearly 2,400 EV sales for the quarter represents an increase of 83% year-over-year. British Columbia is at nearly 1,400 EV sales for the quarter, an increase of 58% over the previous year. While other Provinces in Canada have seen impressive percentage increases in EV adoption, the comparative volume of sales is relatively low next to the top three. Alberta, with the fourth highest EV sales for any Province seeing just 116 EV sales in Q1, an increase of 28% over the same period of the previous year.


Top 5 BEV sales

For the first quarter of 2018, recent BEV model introductions seem to have sliced off some market share from the previously dominant Tesla Models S. Introduced in 2017, the Chevrolet BOLT has become the most sold EV in Canada for 2018 with nearly 600 units sold. Maintaining second place for BEV sales, the recently redesigned Nissan Leaf accounts for over 500 vehicle sales. Another recent addition to the all-electric models, the Volkswagen e-Golf has accumulated nearly 400 unit sales across the Country.

The Tesla Model S, after having sold the most BEV model units for all of 2017 has seen some slowing as the market has opened itself to greater competition and consumers waiting for the delivery of the Tesla Model 3. After dominating annual sales for 2017, Tesla Model S sales have seen some slowing as the market sees more competition from other manufacturers. Not to mention the number of Tesla customers undoubtedly waiting for Tesla Model 3 order fulfillment with baited breath. The Tesla Model S accounts for under 300 units sold and is the fifth most sold BEV. The Tesla Model X, unique to the BEV market has maintained a position as the third most sold model type for the first quarter of 2018. Total units sold for the ‘X’ in this first quarter are over 400.

  1. Chevrolet Bolt (581)
  2. Nissan Leaf (505)
  3. Tesla Model X (411)
  4. Volkswagen e-Golf (390)
  5. Tesla Model S (277)

Top 5 PHEV sales

For plug-in hybrid electric vehicle models, the Chevrolet Volt maintains a long-standing first place position in the market with over 1,000 units sold in the first quarter of 2018. It seems as if the Chevrolet Volt has found a highly defensible position in the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle market. It maintains a long-standing first place position in the PHEV market with over 1,000 model units sold in the first quarter of 2018. However, this position may soon be challenged by a more recent model introduction, the redesigned Toyota Prius Prime. The Prime sees approximately 660 units sold in the same time period. Following these top two positions are a collection of distant competitors which includes the Mitsubishi Outlander (649), Chrysler Pacifica (329), Honda Clarity (292), Hyundai Ioniq (210), Porsche Cayenne (171), Ford Fusion (101), Mercedes GLC350 (80), and Audi A3 (75) to round out the top 10.

  1. Chevrolet Volt (1,008)
  2. Toyota Prius Prime (659)
  3. Mitsubishi Outlander (649)
  4. Chrysler Pacifica (329)
  5. Honda Clarity (292)

Electric Vehicle market share

The portion of electric vehicle sales compares the number of EVs sold in Canada with that of the greater vehicle market. This indicates on a comparative basis the portion of EVs sold in the total automotive market and the passenger car segment of this market. While the overall automotive market has been increasing for at least the last five years, the passenger car market has been steadily decreasing.

The percent of EV sales compared to passenger car sales for all of Canada currently rests at approx. 5.0% (3-month trailing average). This is up from the previous all-time high of 4.6% in December of 2017. Compared to all vehicles sales across Canada, the portion of EV sales is 1.4% of the market, also up from the previous high of 1.3%, which also occurred in December of 2017.

In the major three Provincial markets for EV sales, the percent of EVs sold compared to all vehicle sales differs slightly. Leaders, Ontario and Quebec both see a slight increase from an all-time high in December of 2017. Ontario with 1.4%, and Quebec with 2.5% of all vehicle sales being electric. British Columbia, to buck the trend has seen continued growth in EV market share through the start of 2018. B.C. sets a new high of 2.6% at the end of March compared to 1.7% three months earlier.

Q1 2018 EV Sales scorecard

Common Q&A:
The numbers above are derived from multiple sets of input data. These are summarized below.

What is the source of the data?
IHS, formerly R.L. Polk & Company registration data.

Matthew Klippenstein’s Canadian EV sales:

Statistics Canada, new motor vehicle sales:

Automaker Datasets:
Some data is provided by automakers.

What does the registration data include?
Registration data includes new vehicle sales, and vehicles bought out of Province or Country.

Editor’s Note:
In cases where a new dataset is received that enables further accuracy, these posts will be updated to include that new data.

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