Electric Vehicle Sales in Canada: March 2016 Update

 In Electric Vehicle News

*August 2016 update: we have just published Canadian first-half EV sales numbers here!

*November 2016 update: Q3 numbers are out!

In late 2014, Canada hit its milestone of 10,000 electric vehicles in the country.

After only moderate sales growth in 2015, many of us have been curious to see if Canada has finally passed the 20,000 EV mark in early 2016.

Well, the first quarter numbers are in. The verdict? Thanks to a record-setting March, Canada now sits at 20,217 plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles (and one fuel-cell vehicle).

First quarter (January – March) sales were up dramatically compared to the same period from last year. Last year there were 994 vehicles sold. This year there were 1741, good for a 75% year-over-year growth.

Quebec and Ontario showed accelerated sales, while BC had the most notable jump. Sales in BC jumped nearly two and a half times the 2015 number, likely due to the reintroduction of their $5000 provincial rebate for electric car buyers. This improvement has allowed British Columbia to keep pace as the EV leader on a per-capita basis.

EV Sales in BC, Ontario, and Quebec - Year-To-Year Q1 ComparisonQuebec continues to be the national leader in total vehicles sold, as it is now approaching nearly 10,000 units in the province alone. Journal de Montreal also published last month that Quebec soon plans to make it mandatory to install 240-volt circuits in all newly built homes.


Canada Total Plug-In Vehicles by Province - March 2016

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Model Breakdown

Looking at the breakdown of the models, there are three main stories.

1.) Return of the Chevrolet Volt

Volt sales more than doubled now that the second-generation Volts have arrived. This is welcome news given that the Volt posted negative growth in 2015. It also confirms the notion that the Volt was simply a victim of its own future, after Chevrolet had announced a major redesign early last year.

*Side note: if you’re looking to jump into the EV market, now is a great time to get a deal on a first generation Volt.

2.) Model Diversity

Electric Vehicle Sales in Canada - Year-to-Year Comparison - Q1 2016One of the bigger headlines is the growth in diversity of the plug-ins sold.

Two years ago the Volt, LEAF, and Model S represented 95% of all Q1 plug-in sales.  Last year that reduced to 75%.  Now it is down to 65%.

The increased model diversity was helped by four new models coming to the Canadian market in the last four months. The first to land were the Audi A3 e-tron and Hyundai Sonata PHEV.  The Audi A3 e-tron has already racked up over 100 sales across 6 provinces, spanning Newfoundland to BC.  We had it in the office last week and were thoroughly impressed.

More recently, the first Mercedes S550E and Volvo XC90 units have also been sold.  The Volvo XC90 registered an impressive 73 units in March alone, it’s second month in the market.  That is the highest second month sales we’ve seen from any of the 27 plug-in models that have been sold in Canada.  This may be indicating a strong Canadian appetite for plug-in SUVs.

Within the SUV segment it is worth noting that no Model X’s were registered before the end of March. However, we did see the first Tucson Fuel Cell vehicle delivered in Ontario in March.

Also fueling a strong start to 2016 were the Kia Soul EV and BMW i3 REX, both posting strong first quarters. BMW is also posting strong numbers at the high end of the market, with overall 250 BMW i8s now on Canadian roads.

3.) A New EV Leader in Ontario

EVs in Ontario by Model - March 2016

The last thing worth noting from the first quarter numbers is Tesla’s new title in the Ontario market.  In Q1 the Tesla Model S took the place of most-popular plug-in in Ontario, taking the title from the Volt which has held the title since March 2013.  Nationwide the Volt still holds the title due to its strength in Quebec, however, the Model S is nipping at the Volt’s heels in BC.


  • Sales are up strongly with March setting a new Canadian record.
  • There are now more than 20,000 plug-ins in Canada.
  • Four new models were added; all being the first offerings with Audi, Mercedes, Hyundai, and Volvo badges. Both the Audi and Volvo immediately posted strong numbers.
  • Kia and BMW posted strong first quarters, while the Model S has taken top spot in Ontario and is close to stealing the title in BC.

Total Canadian EV Fleet - March 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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