Electric vehicles sales update Q2 2018, Canada

 In Electric Vehicle News

Fast five EV sales facts:

214% Year-over-year growth in EV sales


143% Even without a rush to redeem the Ontario EV incentive and Tesla Model 3 sales, EV sales still grew by 143%


14,626 EVs were sold in Q2 – compared to 11,060 for all of 2016


2,785 Tesla Model 3 sales in its first quarter of availability. Undoubtedly the strongest first quarter for a new EV model.


37 different models of EVs sold in Q2 – lots of options for consumers


EV sales in Canada were exceedingly strong in Q2. A number of factors have formed the ‘perfect storm’ for electric vehicle (EV) sales across Canada. The storm fronts in no particular order are; increased car buyer comfort and interest in the technology, new EV models are purpose-built to fill every nook and cranny of market segments to produce what is, the perfect vehicle for many consumers. A little car called the Tesla Model 3 was released into the Canadian market. Also, the concern about potentially losing the Ontario EV incentive had the effect of a shot-clock which had many in the Province rush to get an order in for an EV before the election took place. Indeed, shortly after the election, the EV incentive was removed.

I’ll drill into the numbers below, providing Provincial, model and market breakdowns. While dissecting the various factors which culminated to create a record-breaking quarter. This, in an effort to appease the dissenters and skeptics which will surely be proclaiming, “that’s all driven by Tesla Model 3 sales”, “It’s just people trying to get the EV rebate before it disappeared”, and “electric vehicles will never last”. Yes, I read your comments and emails. Ah, you’ll have to come over to the dark-side eventually. Numbers and graphs below.

Canadian EV Market overview

Cumulative EV sales for all-time has reached new heights. The Canadian EV market has now hosted nearly 70,000 Plug-in EV (PEV) purchases. An even split between 35,000 Battery-electric Vehicles (BEV) and 35,000 Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV). That’s impressive because it was this time last year that we were blowing the party-whistle over 40,000 PEVs total.

The massive expansion in the EV market began last year and has gained momentum throughout the latter-half of 2017 and again in the second quarter of 2018, with a brief lull during January and February of 2018. But it was cold out those months and we didn’t want to go outside, so that makes sense.

More specifically, the ‘yuge’ increase in EV sales is best illustrated by comparing Q2’18 to Q2’17 sales. A whopping 14,626 new PEVs hit Canadian asphalt and rolled through Tim Hortons drive-throughs between April and June of 2018. Compare this to 4,659 of last year. Math tells me that that is a 214% increase. Breaking that number apart by model types, we stay on trend for a perfect split between PHEV and all-electric BEV models. That’s 7,429 BEV in Q2’18 vs 2,371 BEV in Q2’17 and 7,197 PHEV in Q2’18 vs 2,288 PHEV in Q2’17. Cool, right?

A Provincial look at EV sales in Canada

No surprise, the ‘big-three’ has once again led the charge in EV adoption across the nation in terms of EV volume. Some smaller Provinces will – however – take the cake for the highest rates of increase. Let’s start with the highest rates of increase to keep things interesting. Nova Scotia rose 333% to 26 new EVs in Q2, compared to 6 new EV’s a year before. Saskatchewan with the second highest rate of increase rose 267% to 22 new EVs from 6 a year before.

What’s interesting is that as we look at the larger Provinces with up to one-thousand times the uptake of EVs, the rate of increase is still impressive. For the second quarter of 2018, Ontario led in new EV sales with 6,866 compared to 2,633 for the same time period last year, that’s a 273% increase. Quebec follows with 4,821 compared to 2,446 in the previous year, a 166% increase. British Columbia is in third with 2,564 compared to 1,352 in the previous year, a 202% increase. Alberta, a distant fourth had 247 new EVs compared to 116 last year, a 129% increase. Good job, big provinces.

A breakdown of EV model sales

Patience is a virtue. To no surprise, the long-awaited Tesla Model three shot to the number one spot, almost as if it was attached to the top of a rocket. It was nearly three years ago when the Model 3 was first announced. Stifled by numerous delays in production due to cash-flow which was resolved in part by debt financing and selling “toy” flamethrowers, due to quality issues which were distracted from by firing off rockets, and due to internal espionage which was rooted out by Elon Musk – action hero – himself. You can’t make this stuff up. A huge number of Model 3’s were finally shipped to Canadians, who although always polite were getting a little peeved a-boot the holdup, don’t ya’ know.

All-electric Battery EV (BEV) Q2 sales

Despite not receiving delivery until nearly the final month of Q2-2018, the Tesla Model 3 ‘rocketed’ to the most sold EV with 2,785, this is the most successful EV model introduction ever. Maintaining second-place for BEV models, recent model introduction, the Nissan Leaf increased to 1,808 unit sales. The Chevrolet BOLT dropped from first to third place for BEV models with 808 unit sales. Following in order were the Kia SOUL EV, Hyundai IONIQ, Tesla Model X, Model S, VW e-Golf, Ford Focus EV and Smart FORTWO.

Plug-in Hybrid Electric (PHEV) Q2 sales

With significantly more models available, the ranks of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles remain dominated by the Chevrolet Volt with 1,653 unit sales. Maintaining second overall position, the Toyota Prius PRIME sold 1,152 units. A close second and holding steady at third position, the Mitsubishi Outlander sold 1,504 units. A distant fourth place is held by the Chrysler Pacifica PHEV with 562 units. Up to fifth from eighth position, the Ford Fusion tagged 513 unit sales.

Electric Vehicle Market Share

I like the chart below for a number of reasons, I like charts in general but more specifically this chart illustrates why Ford will stop producing passenger cars for the North American markets to – Focus – on the production of trucks. (see what I did there?). It can also be used to show the relative market share of electric vehicle shares on a monthly basis.

Consequently, we’re able to produce another graph and more squiggly lines. Recently, these lines point up and to the right, at such an acute angle I thought my spreadsheet broke. It didn’t, people are just buying a lot more electric vehicles.

By the end of the second quarter, the smoothed – trailing 3 month average – of EV market share had climbed to 7.8% of comparable passenger vehicles. Out of all vehicle sales, the EV share is a less generous but still impressive all-time high of 2.3%. To drive home how big of a shift this is, let’s compare these numbers to this time last year. Just 12 months ago, the EV share of all vehicle sales was 0.7%, and 2.2% of passenger vehicle sales. So, a tripling of market share at this point in time compared to last year, zoinks.

Each of the major three provinces follows the National EV market share trend upward. Compared to all-vehicle sales across each Province respectively, British Columbia leads in market share with an increase to 3.7%. Quebec follows with 3.3% EV market share.

Let’s get some perspective, this was a weird quarter, right?

That depends on your definition of weird. For anyone following the EV market, each quarter for the past 5 years has been a bit of a roller coaster. Back in 2014 we were banging the pots and pans over a ⅔ increase in the market compared to the previous year. We got a little depressed in 2015 because the market was only up by ⅓. In 2017 everyone was jumping back on the bandwagon as the market nearly doubled from the previous year. Now, half-way through 2018, 10% more EVs have been sold compared to all of last year. So we could be on our way to an honest to goodness doubling of the market Nationally. So, it’s been weird, but not that weird if you’re used to things being weird.

To what degree did the introduction of the Tesla Model 3 drive Q2 sales?

Of course, the Tesla Model 3 contributed to a surge in EV sales this quarter. The car contributed to 19% of all EV sales across the Country. If we subtract those sales from the total, as if the Model 3 never happened and ignore that some consumers would have purchased other vehicles instead, we get the following. We still would have hit an all-time high for EV sales in a single quarter, albeit 19% lower (give or take a few bolts, and Model S’s). Instead of seeing a 214% increase compared to Q2 of 2017, Q2 of 2018 would have only seen an increase of 154% Nationally.

To what degree did the disappearing EV incentive in Ontario drive sales?

There’s no doubt that the crunch to grab the EV incentive incited an increase in EV sales in Ontario above what the normal or National average was. To determine the degree of influence, we took an average of the National increase in sales minus Ontario and compared it to the Ontario increase. The Canada without Ontario total was 7,760 sales this quarter compared to 2,816 in Q2 of last year, a 176% increase. Ontario for the same periods had 6,866 and 1,881 sales, an increase of 273%. Applying the Canada minus Ontario rate of increase to the Ontario numbers, we can (very) loosely assume that the EV incentive crunch contributed to an additional 3,600 vehicle sales in Ontario in Q2 of 2018. So, less, but still an all-time high.

Without those two factors, what’s the state of the EV market?

Now we’re really getting into what-ifs. Okay, let’s pretend there was no rush to get the Ontario EV incentive and that the Tesla Model 3 never happened. And let’s also assume that consumers wouldn’t have bought likely alternatives like the LEAF, Model S, or Bolt instead. What then? Let’s run the numbers.

Using the same logic as above, we took the National average minus Ontario and removed Tesla Model 3 sales. The completely fictitious comparison would have seen 2,700 new EVs in the Province compared to the reality of 6,866. So, again less, but still an all-time high.


If we’re trying to make sense of EV market growth without these two factors, I’ve got that for you too. Refactoring the adjusted Ontario average the new hypothetical National average would have been lower, but still an all-time high. Adjusted in this model to 9,554 an increase of 143% compared to the reality of 14,626 and a 214% increase. So, no matter which way we slice the data EV sales are either up a lot or up a huge amount. You pick.



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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