Plug-in Electric Car Sales in Canada, May 2018: Rewriting records


2018 Nissan Leaf

2018 Nissan Leaf

Last month, the Mitsubishi Outlander plug-in hybrid set a new single-month sales record for plug-in electric vehicles in Canada and sold 589 units. One month later, that sales pace—plus one car—is only good enough for fourth place.

Nissan shattered Mitsubishi’s record in May with 906 sales of its Leaf electric car, astounding by Canadian standards. In a country with one-tenth as many people as the United States, Nissan sold more than half as many Leafs in Canada this month. (It sold 1,576 in the U.S.) A 100-Leaf fleet purchase from the city of Montreal helped the Leaf’s cause, but the company credits a big part of the sales record a successful pre-sale program last fall. Those orders are now being filled as the supply of new Leafs pours into Canadian dealerships.

Canadian electric car sales May 2018

Canadian electric car sales May 2018

Chevrolet rang up 731 Volt sales in May, far above the 515 from April, and its previous best of 555 in March. The Volt also topped Toyota’s 688 combined sales for the Prius hatchback and Prius Prime plug-in hybrid in May. Of those Prius sales, 425 were Prius Primes, in line with its three-month average, and good enough for the 11th-best single-month plug-in sales total.

Mitsubishi surpassed its own April sales mark in May, notching 590 sales. The 1,179 Outlander plug-ins sold in these two months far surpasses the 768 all-electric iMiEVs the company sold over seven years in Canada.

Canadian deliveries of the Tesla Model 3 began in earnest at the end of May, as exemplified by reader K’s photo of their family’s proud addition. Tesla fans wanting the Model 3 to break the Leaf’s sales record will have their best chance when the shorter-range variant becomes widely available. The long-range version reportedly costs CAD $64,100, considerably more than the base Leaf’s $35,998, and both qualify for equivalent purchase rebates.

Canadian reader K's new Tesla Model 3

Canadian reader K's new Tesla Model 3

Five of Canada’s top 20 single-month sales figures were achieved in May, with 12 of the top 20 coming in the last three months.

The Chevrolet Bolt EV recorded a best-ever 395 sales in May, good enough for 16th spot. This more than tripled April’s 115 units, and surpassed the 371 from October 2017. Bolt EVs are backordered for nearly a year in Canada, so the sales number may reflect more about how many Bolt EVs Chevrolet has delivered than it reflects consumer demand.  

Candian electric-car single-month sales records

Candian electric-car single-month sales records

Among other reporting carmakers, Honda sold 59 Clarity Plug-in Hybrids and Mercedes sold 38 Smart Electric Drives. At time of writing, contacts at Kia and Volkswagen hadn’t yet provided sales figures for their respective electric vehicles.

From only this partial list of reporting automakers, May already stands out as the third-best sales month for plug-in electric vehicles in Canada.

Electric-car sales may break 2 percent of the overall market in Canada in June, as sales of the Tesla Model 3 ramp up.

Much rides on the result of the provincial election in Ontario, home to Canada’s most generous electric-car purchase incentives of up to $14,000 per vehicle. The Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario is widely expected to win a majority government and has generally shown antipathy towards the incumbent government’s environmental policies, including those plug-in electric vehicle rebates.

It’s also possible that the risk of cancellation of electric car rebates could have pulled demand forward in Ontario, with the implication that May’s superlative sales were a one-off phenomenon, instead of a “new normal."


 
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