2013 Chevrolet VoltEnlarge Photo
While February's electric vehicle sales in Canada will have easily topped year-ago numbers, the plug-in market still faces headwinds in Canada during 2014.
British Columbia hit a milestone of 1,000 plug-in vehicle sales earlier this year. With 4.4 million people, the province has about the same population as Kentucky and represents one of every six Canadian plug-in sales.
Sadly, B.C. tied a millstone around the neck of its electric-car market when it pulled the plug on its Clean Energy Vehicle rebate program once the initial funding was used up in February.
Plug-in electric car sales in Canada, Feb 2014Enlarge Photo
This leaves Ontario and Quebec as the only remaining provinces with electric-vehicle incentives. Fortunately, the pair houses more than 60 percent of the Canadian population between them.
February: Volt conquers all
The Chevy Volt continued its Canadian-market dominance, with 98 sales in February. Easily the Volt's best-ever Valentine's month, this almost doubled the 51 delivered a year ago. Well ahead of its year-ago sales pace, the Volt may be able to push back above 1,000 sales in Canada this year.
The Leaf pulled in 64 sales, exactly double its year-ago sales figures. Indeed, this was its second-best monthly sales ever in Canada: great news for the Ghosn-mobile. The Leaf's achievement is especially impressive, given that it came during the "off-season": from December to February, auto sales run at about two-thirds the pace of the rest of the year.
The Prius Plug-in and Mitsubishi i-MiEV round out the regularly-reported vehicles with 4 sales each. While the i-MiEV dropped by half from its previous month, the vehicle had an even slower start to 2013, before gaining modest traction from March onwards.
The Prius Plug-in, unfortunately, has continued to fade; and unless the C-Max Energi and Fusion Energi experience similar drop-offs in sales, it looks increasingly likely that both Ford models will surpass it in 2014.
January registration wrap-up
With vehicle registrations now available for the prior month, we can complete our assessment of January plug-in electric vehicle sales for Canada as well.
Tesla started the year with a modest 20 Canadian sales--and while it's still better than the January 2012 level (15), it's the lowest monthly sales total since then.
We'll need a few more months of year-over-year data to know if demand for the Model S has stabilized in Canada, as it may be doing in the United States.
With 22 sales in January, the Smart Electric Drive squeaked past the Model S into third place. Year-over-year comparisons aren't available yet, as it only went on sale last April. In recent months, the Smart has become one of two plug-ins doing better in Canada than in the United States, once adjustments for population are made.
From October to January, Canadians bought about one-quarter as many Smart EDs as did Americans, despite having just one-tenth the population. (The other Canadian success story is the Mitsubishi i-MiEV, whose American sales are low enough that the Canadian division routinely tops them in absolute numbers.)
In January, Ford also moved another 2 Ford Focus Electrics, and 1 more Chevy Spark and Fisker Karma each joined the Canadian auto fleet.
When Ford provides its semi-annual updates of C-Max Energi and Focus Energi sales, we expect to have seen modest year-over-year growth in January, with Canadian plug-in sales rising from an estimated 163 to roughly 200.