Electric Vehicle Sales in Canada: 2016 Final Update

 In EV Industry

Canadian electric vehicle sales were strong in 2016, posting a record-setting total of 11,000 vehicles sold last year. That’s up 56% from the 2015 total of just over 7,000. The total number of EVs in Canada is just shy of the 30,000 mark.

Monthly EV Sales - 2016 Final

Provincial Breakdown

Quebec continues to be the provincial powerhouse, accounting for nearly half of the EVs in Canada. Quebec was at roughly 13,500 plug-ins by year-end. Within Quebec, EV sales were up 55% over the previous year.

Ontario showed a strong performance in 2016 as well. Ontario had the highest year-over-year growth with a 67% increase in annual sales.

BC sales were up 38% year-over-year, ending the year with a record setting December with 329 sales in the final month of the year. Actually, in the month of December, BC sales beat Quebec and was only two sales shy of Ontario.

EV sales remain a tale of 3 provinces with 95% of sales in 2016 being in British Columbia, Ontario, or Quebec.

Total Plug-in Vehicles by Province - Canada EV sales

In terms of percentage of motor vehicle sales, Quebec and British Columbia hit major milestones in the fall, both having EV sales surpass 1% of all motor vehicle sales including all trucks, SUVs, buses, and vans. Ontario ended the year with EV sales representing roughly half of one percent of motor vehicle sales.

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The Model Breakdown

Looking into vehicle models, 2016 was the year of the Chevrolet Volt, taking the 2015 title from the Tesla Model S. Volt sales more than doubled compared to the previous year, and within 2016 the Volt accounted for almost 1/3rd of all plug-ins sold in Canada.

The good news for the market is that, aside from the Volt’s performance, we are seeing a broader list of options for Canadian EV buyers. There are now 34 different plug-in models registered in Canada.

Two years ago, the Volt, Model S, and LEAF accounted for 70% of all plug-ins sold. In 2016, that number has dropped to 59%. That is still a high fraction of all EV sales from three models, but the trend is clearly improving as other models are gaining volume.

2016 Canadian EV Sales by Month and Model

To that note, there are seven models in Canada that have over 1,000 vehicles in the market.  The four models that are just over the 1,000 vehicle mark are the smart fortwo electric drive, the C-MAX Energi, the Kia Soul EV, and the Tesla Model X.  The i3 is also very close to the 1,000 unit threshold.

EV Models in Canada 2016

New Models

Also worth noting is that there were 9 new plug-in models introduced in 2016.

These include the Audi A3 e-tron, Tesla Model X, Volvo XC90, BMW 330e, BMW 740e, BMW X5 xDrive40e, Hyundai Sonata PHEV, Mercedes GLE550e, and the Mercedes S550e.

A 10th model, the Fiat 500e, saw a number of units registered in BC in December. We believe that these are used 500e’s making their way in from the South.

Also in December we saw the first registrations of the Chevrolet Bolt, Chrysler Pacifica PHV, and Hyundai Ioniq in Ontario.  We believe these were all manufacturer units, but that is a good indicator that these models will soon be at dealerships.

Total Canadian EV Fleet - 2016 FinalComparison to Ontario and Quebec Targets

Both Ontario and Quebec have declared EV targets. Ontario’s target is 5% of passenger vehicle sales by 2020.  Quebec’s is to have a total of 100,000 plug-ins in the market by 2020.  So how are those provinces pacing?

The quick explanation is that both provinces have a path to hit their targets, but EV sales growth must continue to be exponential as neither of those provinces will hit their targets if EV sales only show linear growth.

Quebec Total Number of EVs

Quebec Forecast and TargetSummary

  • 2016 was a strong year for EVs in Canada, topping 10,000 units for the first time ever. Overall sales were up 56% over the 2015 numbers.
  • Quebec remained the strongest province in Canada for EV sales, representing nearly half of all EVs sold in the country.
  • Ontario posted very strong year-over-year growth with an increase of 67% in EV sales. BC showed a good but more modest annual growth of 38%; however, BC showed a record setting December nearly posting the highest number of EV sales country-wide.
  • EV sales in both BC and Quebec exceeded 1% of all new motor vehicle in late 2016.
  • For models, the Volt was dominant in 2016 representing nearly 1 out of every 3 plug-ins sold.
  • In total, 7 models in Canada have now crossed the 1,000 unit threshold.
  • 2016 saw the launch of 9 new plug-in models.
  • 4 additional models were first registered in December 2016, with one of those believed to be used US imports. The 3 other models are expected to hit dealerships in early 2017.

Overall, things are shaping up for 2017 to be a strong year for EVs in Canada.

If you have any questions/comments, please don’t hesitate to give us a shout. And if you want to be notified as soon as new electric car sales updates are published, simply enter your name and email in the subscription box down below.


As always, the data is sourced from R.L. Polk & Company registration data, industry executive interviews, and rounded out by Matthew Klippenstein’s Canadian EV Sales Summaries.

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