Plug-in Electric Car Sales in Canada, March 2013 Page 2

2011 Nissan Leaf and 2011 Chevy Volt, with charging station visible; photo by George Parrott

2011 Nissan Leaf and 2011 Chevy Volt, with charging station visible; photo by George Parrott

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Toyota was lucky to have improved on its February figures, as the Mitsubishi i-MiEV tied its all-time best Canadian monthly sales total of 26 (also achieved in May 2012) but had to settle for fourth place, among reporting automakers. 

This was quite the turnaround, the i-MiEV having put in its two worst-ever Canadian sales months in January and February.  Indeed, Mitsubishi sold almost as many i-MiEV's in Canada last month, as in America (31).

Overall Canadian plug-in electric car market

Paced by the Volt and Leaf, Canadian plug-in electric car sales for those four automakers in March nearly doubled the February levels (218 vs. 118) and improved on a year-over-year basis, as well (March 2012: 150). 

While this is progress, we need to note that in Canada, March generally enjoys a 50 percent bump in auto sales over February, and this year was no exception.  A similar but smaller trend is seen in the United States, with February-to-March sales typically jumping 20-25 percent.

2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid - production model

2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid - production model

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Reported plug-in sales volumes represented 0.14 percent of the Canadian market in March, their third-best showing behind May and September 2012, both of which featured 200+ Chevy Volt sales -- showing the Volt's potential (if you'll excuse the pun) if the company were to pursue sales aggressively.

While this represented a healthy year-over-year improvement from March 2012 (0.09 percent), Canadians still face a long road ahead to catch up to their American cousins in electric vehicle adoption. 

Plug-in electric cars from reporting automakers represented about 0.25 percent of the American market in March 2013.  Add plausible Tesla sales of 2,000 vehicles, and plug-in market share in the United States approaches 0.40 percent -- almost triple the Canadian level.

Matthew Klippenstein is a professional engineer and plug-in electric vehicle enthusiast.  A member of the Vancouver Electric Vehicle Association, he lives with his family in the nearby suburb of Burnaby, and blogs at


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Comments (7)
  1. Surprising. With the extreme temperature, I would think PHEV/EREV would sell better than BEVs there...

  2. To be clear, we're talking about extreme COLD, and that's probably pretty discouraging for all EVs. Extreme cold diminishes effective EV range (and so potential savings) for EREVs as well as shrinking total range on BEVs to inconvenient levels. That's a very practical concern, and one I think can only be addressed effectively with fuel-based car heaters. Why those aren't standard issue in Canada is beyond me.

  3. I agree. I think a "flex fuel" based heater is even better.

    But I think it has more to do with "reputation" of being gas free instead of being "practical".

  4. canadians don't like spending money, that premium on
    gas free range, they'd rather take the bus or walk then drive anyways

  5. Far better than that, any battery heater not fuelled by electricity only needs to burn, since there is no special requirements for the fuel like there are in an ICE. You could use vodka if you *really* wanted to. ;)

  6. You'd think that the same concern would be true of Norway and Sweden, but they're buying *far* more Leafs than Canada is.

    Or maybe the climate is much warmer, in spite of the latitude.

  7. FYI, last month ZENN issued a press release that it is planning to release the CityZENN, a car that goes up to 125km/hr and sounds comparable to the Tesla Roadster in range (Tesla's a high-end electric sports car that just started production in the USA). So the issue of the existing low-speed-vehicle ZENN being too slow and not having the same safety requirements of a regular car will soon be a moot point. Also, they are going with a 5-minute-recharging supercapacitor system that is apparently much better than batteries. Baz -

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