2016 Tesla Model S

2016 Tesla Model S

With the Stanley Cup destined to be won by an American team for the 23rd straight year, Canadian hockey fans seemingly spent the month of April shopping.

The country's monthly auto sales topped 200,000 for the first time in history, and least two plug-in electric vehicles set sales records.

None did as well as the Tesla Model S did in March, however.

DON'T MISS: U.S. Plug-in electric car sales for April 2016: Volt romps, Leaf stagnates

In all, 325 Tesla Model Ses were registered, obliterating the single-month Canadian plug-in electric vehicle sales record.

As a result, despite a slow start to the year (47 sales in January and 88 in February), the Model S very slightly outpaced the Chevy Volt in first-quarter sales, by a margin of 460 to 442.

Readers waiting for the Tesla Model X's Canadian debut will have to wait a bit longer, as none have yet shown up in government registration records.

Plug-in electric car sales in Canada, April 2016

Plug-in electric car sales in Canada, April 2016

The second-generation Chevy Volt followed up a strong March (246 sales) with an even stronger April.

Indeed, its 260 sales would have been the Canadian plug-in electric vehicle monthly sales record, were it not for Tesla's March mark.

At this pace, the Volt has a good chance of joining the Model S as the only plug-ins to shift 2,000 units in a calendar year.

ALSO SEE: Plug-in electric car sales in Canada, March 2016: springing forward

The Nissan Leaf also enjoyed an excellent April, selling 152 units, its best-ever monthly showing. (Its prior best was 148 sales last November.)

The recent successes of the Leaf and Volt are all the sweeter given the low gasoline price environment, which impairs the financial advantages electric vehicles offer over the combustion competition.

Can Canadian plug-in electric vehicles' toe-hold on the market grow into a full-fledged foothold?

2017 BMW i3

2017 BMW i3

BMW doesn't separately break out i3 and i8 sales in Canada, but reported selling 67 i-series vehicles in April, about even with March's 62.

Curiously, while the battery-electric and range-extended i3 sold evenly in 2014, Canadian drivers preferred the range-extended version by a 2:1 ratio in 2015.

And in Q1 of this year, 73 of 85 i3's sold in Canada (about 85 percent) were the range-extended version.

CHECK OUT: U.S. Plug-In Electric Car Sales For 2015 Fell Slightly From 2014

Mitsubishi also sold 14 i-MiEV minicars in March, more than twice the 6 sold in our neighbor to the south.

Statistical apologies

GreenCarReports offers its monthly regrets that Ford C-Max Energi and Ford Fusion Energi sales are no longer provided.

To quote a Ford representative: "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."

2017 Toyota Prius Prime, 2016 New York Auto Show

2017 Toyota Prius Prime, 2016 New York Auto Show

In fairness to the Blue Oval, it isn't the only automaker not to distinguish between conventional hybrids and plug-in hybrids in their Canadian sales reports.

Toyota ceased reporting sales of its Prius Plug-in (one hopes the forthcoming Prius Prime will earn its own line item in their sales summaries).

Hyundai, meanwhile, doesn't distinguish between the hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions of the Sonata.

WATCH THIS: 2017 Toyota Prius Prime plug-in hybrid video preview

Happily, several automakers offer only plug-in hybrid (and not conventional hybrid) variants of their vehicles, making it possible to track PHEV sales through under the "hybrid sales" umbrella.

This category includes the Audi A3 eTron, BMW X5 xDrive40, Porsche Carrera S E-Hybrid and Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid, and the Volvo XC90 PHEV.

March registration round-up

The Volvo XC90 PHEV, with 14 miles of EPA-rated electric range, had an exceptional March. At 73 units, the plug-in hybrid comprised just under 20 percent of monthly sales.

In an intriguing twist, the plug-in hybrid SUV has thus far proven as popular in the similarly-sized oil sands petro-province of Alberta and electric-friendly friendly British Columbia (with 11 sales each).

Petro-Canada gas station, Crossfields, Alberta, with electric-car charging station

Petro-Canada gas station, Crossfields, Alberta, with electric-car charging station

Could Alberta's low uptake of plug-in electric vehicles thus far relate in part to residents' stronger preference for crossovers, and the relative paucity of plug-ins products in that market segment?

We'll see if this trend continues, and whether it's corroborated – or contradicted – in the first few months of Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV sales, whenever that may happen.

In March, Porsche sold 21 Cayenne S E-Hybrids and 3 Panamera S E-Hybrids, up slightly from February's figures. These represented 9 percent and 15 percent, respectively, of total sales.

BMW sold 10 X5 xDrive40's, up from 6 in February, representing a much-smaller 2 percent of sales volume. Its i-series sales in March were split between 45 i3's and 15 i8's.

Audi sold 16 A3 eTrons (4 percent of units), a drop from February's 27 sales (and 15 percent of units).

2016 Audi A3 e-Tron Sportback, San Francisco Bay Area, Oct 2015

2016 Audi A3 e-Tron Sportback, San Francisco Bay Area, Oct 2015

Reader JL reports that the eTron is sold out in British Columbia, and that Audi may have underestimated Canadian demand, only planning for 80 sales this year. (83 A3 eTrons were registered across Canada in the first three months of 2016.)

If true, numbers could be low until more inventory arrives, which may benefit competitors in their efforts to gain "conquest" sales.

Wrapping up the luxury plug-in electric vehicle segment, three Mercedes S-class S550e plug-in hybrids were registered in Canada in March. The Model S-fighter isn't due to be offered to retail buyers until July, so these vehicles are probably being used to familiarize dealerships and salespeople on the car.

Much has (rightly) been made of salespeople trying to steer shoppers away from plug-in electric vehicles, but given that the S-class is Mercedes' flagship vehicle, one imagines dealership staff will be trained and eager to keep clients from defecting to the Californian competition.

Finally, the Kia Soul EV continued its strength, selling 50 units in March, while Ford sold 16 Focus Electrics and the Chevy Spark notched four sales. 


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