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Plug-in Electric Car Sales In Canada, Aug 2013: Volt Charges Ahead


2014 Chevrolet Volt

2014 Chevrolet Volt

Enlarge Photo

In July, we tentatively crowned the Tesla Model S as the top-selling plug-in electric carmaker in Canada, reasoning that the Muskmobile would top the 42 nationwide sales reported by the Volt and the Leaf.

And we were right -- by the skin of our teeth.

Government registration records showed 43 new Teslas in Canada in July, meaning the Model S beat its competitors by a nose. Or perhaps by a "frunk".

Chevy Volt, Tesla Model S

But August will likely see the Chevy Volt returning to the podium for a 17th time, its 84 sales being a bit higher its 74-unit monthly average this year.

Volt sales have fluctuated wildly in the past two months, selling 153 in June and 42 in July. In August, GM brought the 2014 Volt's recent $5,000 price reduction to Canada, so we expect sales to trend higher in the coming months.

The Tesla Model S could still topple the Volt's August figures, having sold 111 units in March and 95, last December.

But Tesla has averaged 55 monthly sales year-to-date, and their factory is now producing models for the electric sedan's European launch as well, so a Canadian sales surge seems less likely.

Nissan Leaf: ZEV credit effects?

The Nissan Leaf moved 56 units in August, good enough for second or third place, depending on where Tesla ends up. As noted last month, Canadian supplies of the 2013 Leaf are constrained, and at the current sales rate suggests inventory will disappear by December.

Plug-in electric car sales in Canada, Aug 2013

Plug-in electric car sales in Canada, Aug 2013

Enlarge Photo

Some of the constraint relates to the Leaf's surging popularity stateside in "new wave" markets like Atlanta.

Another part may be the fact that it could take six months before Nissan's suppliers can accommodate a decision to increase production. (Recalling Kleiber's Law, the size, cost and complexity of car components means it takes a relatively long time for an automotive supply chain to respond to market opportunities.)

It's also possible that Nissan may be de-emphasizing the Canadian market. The company's business analysts could probably argue that American sales are more lucrative to the company, as the California portion will earn ZEV credits, which can be sold to other carmakers.

And everyone else

In August, the Toyota Prius Plug-In and the Mitsubishi i-MiEV moved 21 and 20 units, respectively.

While we haven't received Smart Electric Drive data yet, we think Mercedes can beat those figures (they have, in three of the past four months), so we suspect that the Smart will take fourth place.

Ford data continues to be difficult to come by, and we've limited our (very polite) inquiries to Ford Canada's patient representatives, in the interest of avoiding "cease-and-desist" letters.

And finally, about those neighbours...

Lastly, in keeping with our practice of contrasting American and Canadian culture, we note that in August, Americans commemorated the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s epochal "I have a dream" speech at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

Canadians, meanwhile, marked the 25th anniversary of The Trade, a hockey mega-deal that saw superstar Wayne Gretzky move from the Edmonton Oilers to the Los Angeles Kings.

A national uproar ensued, culminating in the Oilers' owner being burned in effigy outside the team's arena. The leader of one of our country's opposition parties demanded that the Canadian government block the transaction.

Happily for Oilers fans, while baseball's "curse of the Bambino" haunted the Boston Red Sox for 86 years, the Gretzky-less Oilers would win the Stanley Cup just two years later, after only a year's interregnum.

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