Subsidy's swansong: Canadian plug-in sales take a dip


2018 Nissan Leaf SL

2018 Nissan Leaf SL

After generous tax credits expired in Canada’s largest province of Ontario, September, not April, turned out to be the coldest month for electric-car sales North of the Border. The tax credit was worth up to $10,000 ($14,000 Canadian.)

British Columbia was a bright spot, with the provincial government announcing plans to maintain current rebate levels until plug-in electric vehicles represent 5 percent of new vehicle sales in the province. Depending on the mix of battery-electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids, the funds should last until the 2019 budget is released in the spring.

DON'T MISS: Electric car rebates end in Ontario, Canada

Green Car Reports estimates that plug-in electric vehicles captured a bit more than 2.5 percent of new Canadian car sales in September, led by Tesla’s trademark end-of-quarter delivery rush. For the year, plug-in sales represent almost 2.2 percent of new vehicle sales in Canada, versus 1.8 percent in the United States. If the trend holds, 2018 could be the first year plug-in electric vehicles represent a higher percentage of new car sales in Canada than in the U.S.

Sept. 2018 Canadian plug-in car sales [MATTHEW KLIPPENSTEIN]

Sept. 2018 Canadian plug-in car sales [MATTHEW KLIPPENSTEIN]

Tesla stepped up Canadian deliveries in September, as it often does at the end of a quarter. Based on the company’s published third-quarter Model 3 sales figures, widely published U.S. sales estimates, and July and August Canadian vehicle registrations, we estimate the company sold 1,330 Model 3 sedans in Canada in September.

Based on June’s sales figures, we also estimate that Tesla sold about 100 Model S sedans and 300 Model X crossovers in Canada in September.

The Model 3’s super September brings its yearly Canadian total to 4,295, placing it third behind the Nissan Leaf (with 4,481 units) and Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (4,402 units) year-to-date.

READ MORE: Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV vie for Canadian sales lead in August

The Leaf’s 605 sales in September represent its third-best monthly total, and gave Nissan exactly 10,000 sales in Canada in the Leaf’s 87 months on the market.

Mitsubishi sold 554 Outlander PHEVs in September. The SUV has been in the top 20 all time sales months for electric cars in each of the six months it has been on the market, reflecting the steady appeal of SUV’s.

Among other reporting automakers, Toyota sold 265 Prius Primes, roughly a one-third drop from its 400 sales per month average since March. Chevy sold 293 Bolt EVs but only 136 Volt plug-in hybrids. That could be attributed to tight supplies during the model year changeover. GM has said that lower Bolt EV sales in North America have resulted from its expanding deliveries overseas.

Sept. 2018 Canadian monthly sales trend [MATTHEW KLIPPENSTEIN]

Sept. 2018 Canadian monthly sales trend [MATTHEW KLIPPENSTEIN]

Volkswagen sold 153 e-Golfs, its best figure since February, while Mercedes continued its steady pace of Smart Electric Drive sales, with 28.

Honda Clarity PHEV sales, however, dropped to a lowest-ever 12 as incentives boosted sales for the model in the U.S.

Registrations for August showed 78 Tesla Model S and 113 Model X sales, in August, about in line with prior months, and 25 to 75 units higher than we estimated last month. August also saw a surprisingly modest 95 Tesla Model 3 sales, significantly lower than forecast.

Sept. 2018 Canadian quarterly sales trend [MATTHEW KLIPPENSTEIN]

Sept. 2018 Canadian quarterly sales trend [MATTHEW KLIPPENSTEIN]

Quarterly reports

With GreenCarReports’ move to quarterly plug-in electric vehicle sales reporting for the United States, sales reports for Canada will also be moving to a quarterly basis.

Plug-in electric vehicle sales in Canada dipped from the roughly 14,750 in the second quarter to an estimated 12,000 in the third, with market share declining slightly from 2.43 percent to 2.27 percent. Typically plug-in market share increases from Q2 to Q3, but the second quarter this year was marked by frenetic Tesla Model 3 deliveries in late May and early June ahead of expiring tax credits in Canada and the U.S.

Year-over-year comparisons show a more normal increase in plug-in market share from 0.7 percent in Q3 2016 to 0.90 percent in Q3 2017. In addition to the Tesla Model 3, the other vehicles most responsible for this year’s surge to 2.3 percent are the second-generation Nissan Leaf, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, and the Toyota Prius Prime, the latter of which had previously only been available in Quebec. While the Chevy Volt continues to sell well, its sales are only up 10 percent year-over-year, perhaps on account of the new competition.

Readers interested in following along with the Canadian monthly sales figures can follow along on Twitter at @ElectronComm where automakers’ sales will be posted as they file their reports.

 
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