Plug-in Electric Car Sales in Canada, August 2015: Still Chasing Chevy


2015 Chevrolet Volt

2015 Chevrolet Volt

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The first-generation Chevy Volt notched 167 new Canadian customers in August, building on its sector-leading 150 July plug-in electric vehicle sales north of the 49th parallel.

Though this represents a slight year-over-year drop from last August's 186 Volts, it's encouraging that sales have remained resilient in the face of low gasoline prices.

Sales in Quebec were particularly strong in July – the last month for which provincial breakdowns are available – again demonstrating the Volt's popularity in La Belle Province.

DON'T MISS: U.S. Plug-In Electric Car Sales In August: Calm Before The Storm?

With the Volt edging out the Model S by a two-car margin in the previous month of July, it topped the Canadian monthly plug-in sales charts for the 28th time – one more time than the New York Yankees have won baseball's World Series.

With Tesla reportedly focused on factory upgrades for the Model X in August, we suspect August may prove to be the Volt's 29th podium-topping performance.

The 148 Model S cars bought by Canadians in July pushed that vehicle's year-to-date sales past 1,100, and it looks poised to break the Volt's single-year sales record of 1,521 units (set last year).

Plug-in electric car sales in Canada, August 2015

Plug-in electric car sales in Canada, August 2015

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Plug-in electric vehicle market share in Canada this year (a bit below 0.3 percent) is about half that of the United States (a bit above 0.6 percent), the Tesla Model S alone now accounts for one in every 1,000 cars bought in Canada. That's roughly comparable to best guesses of its probable American market share.

Nissan sold 124 Leafs in Canada in August, up 30 from July, and besting the 113 sales a year ago.

Despite Canada being in recession, coincident with the collapse in worldwide oil prices, Leaf sales in the past six months are higher than in the year-ago period (632 units to 587 units).

ALSO SEE: Plug-In Electric Cars & Politics In Canada: Taking The Pulse

The return of electric-vehicle incentives in British Columbia appears to have more than compensated for modest declines in the rest of the country.

BMW, meanwhile, sold 49 i-series vehicles in August, roughly even with month-ago and year-ago levels. Mitsubishi sold 7 i-MiEV's, and Cadillac sold another ELR.

As always, we regret that sales figures for the Toyota Prius Plug-in, Ford C-Max Energi and Ford Fusion Energi are unavailable: The companies refuse to break down their sales, and vehicle registrars not distinguishing plug-in and hybrid versions.

Quoting a representative from Ford: "I have looked into this and unfortunately we are not inclined to provide this level of detail for Canada. The numbers are very small, as you might imagine."

2016 Kia Soul EV

2016 Kia Soul EV

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July registrations Big Trends

After selling about a dozen in each of the prior months, Kia moved 62 Soul EVs off dealer lots in July, in the three provinces in which the vehicle is sold.

Mercedes-Benz sold 50 Smart Electric Drives, up from 35 in May, and six Ford Focus Electrics quietly cruised off with new owners--as did one more Chevy Spark EV.

In broader electric-car news, British Columbia joined the West Coast Electric Fleets initiative, alongside Washington State, Oregon and California, with local utilities, cities and a taxi service pledging to expand their use of plug-in electric vehicles.

One wonders if taxis might be the most effective way of broadening the electric car market, through the "butts in seats" effect. As reported earlier, about one-third of Canadians would consider a plug-in as their next vehicle – perhaps large numbers of rides in an electric taxi (or Uber) could nudge some of the other two-thirds?

Finally, Canadians go to the polls in October, with the current government having called an election campaign for the interminable (by Canadian standards) period of 11 weeks.

At time of writing, the country's three major political parties are polling within 5 percent of each other, meaning their strategists may be particularly receptive to advocacy groups' policy suggestions.

Over to you, electric-car advocates ....

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