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Plug-in Electric Car Sales In Canada, Nov 2013: Volt Soars, Tesla Tumbles?


2014 Chevrolet Volt 5dr HB Grille

2014 Chevrolet Volt 5dr HB Grille

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GM sold an excellent 133 Chevrolet Volts in November, more than doubling October's 62 sales, and bringing monthly sales into triple figures for the second time this year, behind June's 153 deliveries.

While we'll have to wait for vehicle registration data, the Volt may have made up more than half of Canada's November plug-in electric vehicle sales.

Some of this is likely due to GM's recent "0% financing for up to 84 months" promotion on all 2014 models. Since the promotion runs from November 22 to December 9, we might expect healthy Canadian sales in December, and perhaps a dip in January.

Plug-in electric car sales in Canada, Nov 2013

Plug-in electric car sales in Canada, Nov 2013

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Leaf-y consistency

While Nissan sold exactly one more Leaf in the United States in November compared to October (2003 vs 2002), the company exactly matched its prior month's sales in Canada, with 30.

A lift in the Leaf's northern fortunes probably won't come until Nissan is able to expand production at its assembly plant in Smyrna, Tennessee, much to the frustration of advocates who'd like to leverage Canada's 60-percent-hydroelectric powered grid. (Another 15 percent is nuclear.)

And the rest...

The Mitsubishi i-MiEV managed 15 sales, in line with its six-month average, and the Toyota Prius Plug-in (just barely) climbed back into double digits with sales of 10 units.

For the three months where year-over-year Canadian data is available, the Toyota Prius Plug-in's sales volume has roughly halved (24 vs. 45). This may illustrate the danger of providing consumers with a "me-too" electric vehicle with very low range, as opposed to a dedicated plug-in platform.

They don't hand out medals for fourth place or below at the Olympics, but to borrow from Jimmy Pankow of Chicago fame, the Prius Plug-in's disappointing results – sales of 7, 7, and 10 units in September through November – might earn a medal of "aluminum, or maybe plywood".

2013 Tesla Model S

2013 Tesla Model S

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Tesla surprise?

In the previous month of October, the Tesla Model S had its second-slowest month in Canada, moving a mere 26 units, only good enough for a fourth-place finish. In the seven prior months, it had averaged about 60 sales per month.

Tesla could be throttling back Canadian deliveries to serve other markets: there's precedent, as Nissan has similarly restricted Leaf supply in Canada due to a variety of factors, from limited North American production to booming sales in U.S. markets like Atlanta, Georgia, and California.

Some would-be Model S buyers may have decided to wait for the Model X. It's also possible that some October deliveries were delayed into November.

We'll have to wait for those figures from registration data, which we'll use to update the tallies when it's available.

The Canadian picture

Electric vehicle sales in Canada continue to run at about one-quarter the market share enjoyed in the American market (0.15 percent versus 0.6 percent).

2012 Nissan Leaf in the autumn outside Ottawa, Ontario, Canada [photo: Ricardo Borba]

2012 Nissan Leaf in the autumn outside Ottawa, Ontario, Canada [photo: Ricardo Borba]

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With electric vehicle support reaffirmed and redoubled in Quebec, and support ongoing in Ontario, advocates have set their focus on the last of Canada's Big Three electric vehicle markets, British Columbia.

Getting the province to renew its incentives (currently scheduled to sunset in March 2014) will be crucial to continued growth in the Canadian plug-in market.

While Americans gathered with their families for Thanksgiving last week, Canadian households were setting their alarm clocks for the country's traditional cross-border, Black Friday shopping.

A full 14 percent of the country planned to brave the customs crossings, a migratory feat achievable mainly because Canada is essentially a barren hinterland, with a populated ribbon near the United States border. (As a Canadian, I say this with love...)

Adding online shoppers, this past Black Friday mobilized 47 percent of the Canadian population, more than voted in Canada's last Federal election. If we could only figure out how to interest a few percent of them in electric vehicles....

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