The new year started out positively for Canadian electric-vehicle advocates, as government registration data showed Canadian plug-in electric vehicle sales topped 3,100 vehicles last year, representing a 58-percent increase over 2012.
Unfortunately, it looks as if the province of British Columbia will not renew its electric vehicle incentives when they expire in March.
Plug-in electric car sales in Canada, Jan 2014
Only about $115,000 remains of the allocated funding--equivalent to support for just 23 battery-electrics--and indications are that the program will not receive further funding.
With British Columbia accounting for about 15 percent of the country's plug-in sales, the Canadian electric vehicle market looks destined for slower growth in 2014.
Perhaps the only consolation is that sales data before and after the end of incentives may reveal the price-sensitivity of plug-in early adopters. That may be helpful to advocates when incentive programs come up for review in larger, key markets.
Chevy Volt, Nissan Leaf
Canadian car-buyers drove 66 Chevy Volts off dealer lots in January, a marked improvement over the 44 sales in January 2013. The Leaf saw a more modest improvement, selling 41 units versus 37 in the year-ago time frame.
One month does not a trend make, but it's promising that two of the higher-volume plug-in vehicles have increased their sales--despite a broader array of plug-in cars now available to the public compared to a year ago.
It would be premature to credit the Volt with the January sales crown, given that the Tesla Model S has topped 60 sales six different times in the past 13 months.
At at the other end of the size spectrum, considering the sales momentum of the Smart ForTwo Electric Drive at the end of last year, that tiny electric two-seater may also be able to reach these levels.
2012 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid - production model
The Toyota Prius Plug-in's struggles in Canada continued in January, with 4 reported sales.
(Its January sales in the U.S. fell similarly, to a seven-month low of 803 units.)
And finally, Mitsubishi i-MiEV sales data was unavailable at time of writing, though the number could well be zero, since precisely 1 was sold in the U.S. in January. We'll update this story (and associated table) once we know the number.
Going back to update the previous month with data that lags a month, we find that 60 Tesla Model S's were sold in Canada in December, helping the vehicle to a full-year total of 638, second only to the 931 units moved by the Chevy Volt.
2013 Smart Electric Drive Coupe, Ann Arbor, Michigan, Aug 2013
December was also a good month for the Smart Electric Drive, with 52 vehicle registrations, good enough for third place among electric vehicles. This brought its yearly total to 222 units, pushing it past the Prius Plug-in (212) for fourth place in Canada.
The electric Smart may do much better in 2014, as it finished the year with strong momentum. Half of its sales came in the fourth quarter, and the diminutive two-seater tied or outsold the Leaf each month during those three months.
In other vehicle registration data, two Ford Focus Electrics were sold in December, bringing the yearly total to 103.
Ford's three plug-in electric cars (Focus Electric, C-Max Energi and Fusion Energi) combined for 418 Canadian sales last year, which would have been good enough for fourth place among brands, behind Chevrolet, Tesla and Nissan.
Also in December, Cadillac sold 4 of its new ELR luxury range-extended electric coupe. And, remarkably, 3 more Fisker Karma's trickled out of dealer lots.