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Plug-in Electric Car Sales In Canada For March: Volt Returns To Triple Figures


2014 Chevrolet Volt

2014 Chevrolet Volt

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While the Nissan Leaf is gaining momentum, the Chevrolet Volt remains in the driver's seat for March in plug-in electric-car sales for Canada.

The Chevy Volt returned to triple-figure sales in Canada for the tenth time in March, tallying 105 sales from coast to coast. That figure was up slightly from a strong February (98 units) and year-ago March levels of 82 sales.

While it may be premature to project trends for the rest of 2014, General Motors' Canadian division will surely be happy that its Q1 Volt sales are up by half year-over-year (269 vs. 177).

2014 Nissan Leaf

2014 Nissan Leaf

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The Nissan Leaf followed in second place, with a second consecutive second-best-ever sales month in Canada.

March's 75 Leaf sales bumped February's 64-unit tally into third place, and trailed only the 82 sales from March of last year. For the quarter, Leaf sales rose by about 15 percent year-over-year (180 vs. 156).

Toyota sold 13 Prius Plug-in Hybrids in Canada during March; while this is an improvement over the January and February numbers (4 each), its sales remain far below those of last March (28). For the quarter, plug-in Prius sales are down a lot year-over-year (21 vs. 86).

The Mitsubishi i-MiEV sold 12 units in March – as with the Prius Plug-in, only 4 had sold in February. Unfortunately, the little electric minicar's year-over-year comparison is also Prius Plug-in like, as sales were down from 26 last March. Its first-quarter results are down one-third, year-over-year (24 vs. 35).

February registration wrap

We'll have to wait until next month's registration data to arrive before making any inferences about growth rates for electric-car sales in Canada during the first quarter. But we can confidently say that growth rate will depend on Tesla, whose monthly sales have come in at about 60... plus or minus 50.

The Model S started the year slowly, with 20 registrations in January, and another 19 in February--two of the vehicle's three slowest months in Canada. This isn't necessarily cause for concern: Last year, Tesla followed a 15-unit January and 32-unit February with a rollicking 111-unit March.

Plug-in electric car sales in Canada, Mar 2014

Plug-in electric car sales in Canada, Mar 2014

Enlarge Photo

But with Tesla building up its channel inventory for European expansion and a launch in China, plus the possibility that some customers may opt to wait for the Model X crossover launch less than a year from now, we might also expect a more modest March this time around.

The Smart Electric Drive's 20 registrations in February mean it nipped Tesla for the bronze in Canadian plug-in sales. Sales remained about level from January (22 units), but well off the pace at the end of last year (roughly 40 sales per month).

That said, the Canadian auto market overall starts the year slowly, with January and February sales perennially running at two-thirds the March pace, so we'd expect improved numbers from the Smart next month.

Among lower-volume vehicles, 3 Ford Focus Electrics were sold in February, joined by 2 each of the Cadillac ELR and Chevrolet Spark EV.

And, finally, one more Fisker Karma graduated from a dealer lot onto Canadian roads and presumably an owner's garage.

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