2013 Tesla Model S electric sport sedan [photo by owner David Noland]

2013 Tesla Model S electric sport sedan [photo by owner David Noland]

Readers of our monthly analysis of the Canadian plug-in electric car market know two things well:

  • a) the Chevy Volt dominates, with sixteen consecutive months of sales leadership; and
  • b) Canadian plug-in figures are hard to come by.

Our posts on June plug-in sales in the United States and Canada illustrate this latter point.

Both offer sales figures for the Chevy Volt, Nissan Leaf, Toyota Prius Plug-in and Mitsubishi i-MiEV. And that's where it ends for Canadians.

Meanwhile, their American neighbors--or "neighbours", as we prefer up north--enjoy figures for the Chevy Spark EV, Ford C-Max Energi, Ford Fusion Energi, Ford Focus Electric, Honda Accord PHEV, Honda Fit EV, Smart Electric Drive and Toyota RAV4 -- plus Green Car Reports' guesstimate of monthly Tesla Model S sales.

To adapt the slogan of a popular filmed-(mostly)-in-Canada TV series, for Canadians, "the truth is out there, but the data isn't".

Registration data to the rescue!

Earlier this week, your contributor received a report on Canadian hybrid and electric vehicle registration data compiled by automotive consultants R.L. Polk & Co. (recently purchased by IHS Inc).

Many thanks to Big Green Island, a Canadian clean-transportation consultancy and electric-car charging-station service provider, who sent it over.

To vet this data set, we checked the vehicle registration data of plug-ins with known sales data, and were pleased that the totals essentially matched.

Where there were differences of a few units, these could be explained by timing issues: Cars purchased at the end of a month would show up in company sales figures, but appear in government registration records a few days later, meaning they were logged the next month.

So we can now supplement our monthly Canadian market reports with January-to-May 2013 vehicle registration data for the electric Ford Focus, Smart ForTwo, Toyota RAV4 EV… and even the elusive Tesla Model S!

Plug-in vehicles through May 2013

Here's how the Canadian vehicle registrations break down for plug-in vehicles during the first five months of 2013:

  • 1. Chevy Volt - 317
  • 2. Tesla Model S - 281
  • 3. Nissan Leaf - 240
  • 4. Toyota Prius Plug-in - 130 (calculated from Toyota monthly sales reports; vehicle registration data does not distinguish between Prius Liftback and Plug-In models)
  • 5. Mitsubishi i-MiEV - 73
  • 6. Ford Focus Electric - 47
  • 7. Smart ForTwo Electric - 46
  • 8. Fisker Karma - 5
  • 9. Toyota RAV4 EV - 2
  • 10. Ford C-Max Energi & Fusion Energi - unknown (neither Ford nor vehicle registration figures distinguish between Hybrid and Energi models)

2013 Chevrolet Volt - Driven, December 2012

2013 Chevrolet Volt - Driven, December 2012

Model S behind Volt, ahead of Leaf

In the first five months of 2013, the Tesla Model S was the second-best selling plug-in vehicle in Canada -- and the best-selling battery electric vehicle.

One wonders if this will give Nissan's Canadian operations an incentive to catch up to the now officially-threatening upstart.

Delving into the regional breakdowns, the Tesla was the #1 plug-in electric car in two provinces:

  • Ontario, Canada's most populous province, where it outsold the Volt 147-108.
  • Manitoba, where it outsold the Volt by, um, 5 cars to 4.

Toronto being Canada's financial center, Ontario is home to most major Canadian firms' head offices -- and the luxury car-driving executives who lead them.

As such, it's understandable that half of Tesla's Canadian sales would occur there, despite Ontario having a bit more than one-third of the Canadian population.

In contrast, the province's share of Volt and Leaf sales has been almost exactly in line with its population, at 108 of 317 Volts and 86 of 240 Leafs sold.

As for Manitoba, geographically inclined readers will find the land of 100,000 lakes (and all the mosquitoes they entail) sitting due north of Minnesota and its mere 10,000 lakes.

Competitive one-upmanship knows no bounds.


Follow GreenCarReports on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.