Electric Vehicle Sales in Canada: 2016 Half Year Update

 In EV Industry

*Feb 2017 update: The final 2016 Canadian EV sales numbers are out!

In our last Canadian EV sales update, we looked at Canada’s blazing start to 2016.

After moderate growth in 2015, EV sales surpassed the 20,000 EV mark, largely in part to a record setting March. Overall, sales in Q1 saw a 75% year-over-year growth compared to 2015.

So with a few more months of data, how have electric car sales for the first half of the year looked? Has the momentum from March carried through to June?

Monthly PEV Sales Canada - H1 2016H1 Year-Over-Year comparison by province - 2016

While the pace slowed a little in April and May (mainly driven by Tesla registrations that continuously follow a low-low-high monthly cycle), June quickly trumped March’s record. In fact, with 1078 vehicles sold, this is the first time Canada has surpassed the 1k mark in a month.

For the first half of 2016 as a whole, 4288 electric cars were sold. This is a 54% improvement over last year’s first half total of 2790.

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Volt on the rebound, and the LEAF holding strong

A large reason for this year-over-year increase has been the rebound of the Chevrolet Volt. As the Q1 numbers were suggesting, the Volt has seen a significant rise in sales as the 2nd-generation model has rolled out. In the first half of 2015, Chevrolet only sold 489 of its vehicles. This year that number is 1299, almost a 300% increase.  While a large bump is expected given the change-over from first-generation and second-generation Volts, the strong growth over the 2014 Volt numbers is a notable and positive sign for the industry.

Electric vehicle sales in Canada - 2016 Half-Year - Year-to-year comparisonWhile the fortune of the Volt was to be expected, it’s interesting to see that LEAF sales have actually held strong over last year as well. In the USA, LEAF sales were down 40% this half. In Canada, they’re actually up 21%. With Nissan confirming that the next-gen LEAF will feature a 200+ mile range, it’s a little surprisingly to see that sales have held up so well. It’s possible that sales will slowly drop off as more details of the 2nd-gen model are released.

There have also been recent reports about local groups trying to organize a group-buy discount with Nissan, similar to what happened in Denver last year. While the deal is currently far from complete, a group in Montreal is suggesting that they have over 2500 buyers lined up, which would of course bump sales numbers significantly. There have been talks of a similar deal in the works in Toronto as well.

Different provinces, different EV sales leaders

Another interesting thing to note is vehicle makeup in Canada’s top three electric vehicle provinces. In BC, the Nissan LEAF holds the top market share at 26%, followed by the Model S and Chevrolet Volt. In Ontario, it’s the Model S at 28%, followed by the Volt and LEAF. In Quebec, it’s the Chevrolet Volt at a whopping 44%, followed by the Nissan LEAF and Tesla Model S.

EVs in British Columbia by Model - 2016 Half-YearEVs in Ontario by Model - 2016 Half-YearEVs in Quebec by Model - 2016 Half-Year

Early results show Tesla sales in Ontario keep pace despite changes to the incentive structure

Earlier this year, Ontario announced very significant incentive adjustments for the various EV models. Previously, incentives for EV purchases ranged from $5,000 – $8,500. Under the new program, on the high end, the BMW i3 is eligible to receive the maximum incentive of $13,000.

Tesla faced a different fortune though with its luxury models, making the Model S eligible for only a $3,000 rebate – down from the previous $8,500.

The price insensitivity of Tesla buyers has once again showed face, as this reduction has not had a clear impact on sales. Overall Tesla sales (with the both Model S and Model X included) were only down 4%.

At the same time there was a drop in Tesla registrations in BC and a bump in Quebec.  It is too early to make any definitive statements other than Ontario’s Tesla deliveries seem to be within the ranges seen in BC and Quebec where incentive structures were not changed in this time period.

Tesla Sales by Province - 2016 H1

Total Canadian Fleet

Canada now stands at 22,763 electric vehicles in total. A breakdown by model and province can be seen below:

Electric car sales in Canada in the first half of 2016

If you have any questions/comments, please don’t hesitate to give us a shout or leave a comment. And if you want to be notified as soon as new 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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