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Plug-in Electric Car Sales In Canada, May 2014: A Pattern Of Progress


May was a great month for Canadian plug-in electric vehicle sales, as it was in the United States--where sales of 3,117 Nissan Leafs represented the second-highest monthly sales ever for any car that plugs in.

On the Canadian side of the border, our tracking showed the nation's electric-car fleet has now topped 7,000 vehicles, and April and May look to be the country's top two plug-in sales months yet.

DON'T MISS: U.S. Plug-In Electric Car Sales In May: Highest-Ever Leaf Total, First BMW i3 Numbers: FINAL UPDATE

Canadians bought 177 Chevy Volts in May, down modestly from 222 in April, but well above the 77 sales last May. April and May were the Volt's # 1 and # 4 best-ever sales months in Canada, so we're hoping for another strong performance in June.

Plug-in electric car sales in Canada, May 2014

Plug-in electric car sales in Canada, May 2014

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Year-to-date, Canadians have bought 668 Volts, the extended-range electric vehicle's second-best five-month stretch after May through September of 2012, when 717 were sold. That total is all the more impressive considering the increased plug-in competition, and the fact that January and February are slow months in the Canadian auto market.

The Nissan Leaf, meanwhile, moved 101 units in May--its best-ever showing, and the first time it has crossed into triple figures at all. With May's numbers, four of the Leaf's five best sales months in Canada, have been in 2014. (The outlier is March 2013, with its 82 sales being good enough for second-best on the list.)

Your correspondent, meanwhile, continues to hope the Japanese automaker with a French connection will introduce a limited "Maple" Leaf edition.

May was business-as-usual for the Toyota Prius Plug-in and Mitsubishi i-MiEV, with the former holding steady at 10 sales (down from April's 11) and 8 electric minicars driving off lots (versus 10 in April). Canadians also bought three Cadillac ELRs.

Frame from 2014 Cadillac ELR video on YouTube, with actor Neil McDonough

Frame from 2014 Cadillac ELR video on YouTube, with actor Neil McDonough

Enlarge Photo

Provincial politics play a role

Canadian electric-vehicle advocates were cheered in May when the newly-elected Premier of Quebec (equivalent to a state Governor) Philippe Couillard announced he would continue his predecessors' initiatives to electrify the transportation sector. His speech was in French; our overview of Quebec's transportation electrification plan is here.

Couillard also announced plans to use Quebec's abundant hydro-electric resources to grow the aluminum industry. Earlier this week in Montreal, aluminum giant Alcoa and Israeli startup Phinergy debuted a prototype vehicle using their jointly-developed aluminum-air battery, with the potential to offer 1,600 km (1,000 miles) of range. (Tesla's patent applications show that the Silicon Valley vehicle-maker has also considered integration of metal-air batteries into lithium-ion battery packs.)

Unfortunately, in Ontario--the other Canadian province with electric vehicle incentives--one of the two front-runners in the currently-underway election, Tim Hudak, is a fiscal conservative who pledged in his campaign two years ago to eliminate electric-vehicle incentives.

Citroen test car fitted with Phinergy prototype aluminum-air battery

Citroen test car fitted with Phinergy prototype aluminum-air battery

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While Hudak hasn't yet mentioned electric vehicles during this campaign, the cancellation of Ontario's rebates could impose big headwinds for electric-car sales.

In more pleasant news, Ontario fleet analytics company FleetCarma launched a crowd-funding campaign to manufacture a data logger with "gamified" features and the ability to assess an electric vehicle's battery health. (Full disclosure: The author plans to buy one.) U.S. readers may already be familiar with the relatively similar Automatic Link, available at Best Buy and Apple Stores.

Prior month: April vehicle registrations

In April, 71 Tesla Model S cars were registered in Canada. Coupled with the prior month's 119 sales, Tesla enjoyed its best and fourth-best sales months ever this March and April. With Tesla's recent announcement that Panasonic may soon increase battery shipments, bigger numbers yet may soon be in store.

The Smart Electric Drive moved another 28 units in April, in line with its 24-per-month pace for the year. Four Ford Focus Electrics moved off lots, and three Chevy Spark EVs also joined the national fleet.

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