Plug-in electric car sales in Canada, May 2017: what dominance looks like

As certain as LeBron James reaching the NBA Finals, the Chevy Volt led the Canadian plug-in electric vehicle market in May.

Barring a sales collapse in June, it will have led the category for a remarkable two-thirds of the months (48 of 72) in which electric vehicles from major carmakers have been available in Canada.

Chevy sold 404 Volts in Canada in May, up from April’s 348, and its third-best monthly total behind August and September of last year (421 and 446, respectively.)

DON’T MISS: U.S. plug-in electric car sales for May: best Bolt EV, Prime months yet; Leaf, Volt rise too

The Chevy Bolt EV enjoyed its third-straight “silver medal” in May, with sales of 177 units, down slightly from 187 in April.

These figures may not represent true demand, however, as dealerships in Ontario and Quebec (Canada’s two most populous provinces, both with plug-in vehicle purchase rebates) have reported waiting lists on the order of nine months.

While Chevy might currently be able to sell 200+ Bolts per month in Canada in the absence of supply constraints, the “natural” or steady-state sales level might fall later in the year, with the introduction of the second-generation Nissan Leaf and eventual Canadian debut of the Tesla Model 3.

On the other hand, if one or both of those vehicles disappoint car buyers, the Bolt might enjoy a further boost in demand.

Nissan sold 122 first-generation Leafs in May, down slightly from April’s 142. Its 586 Leaf sales through the first five months are ahead of its year-ago pace of 494, meaning the Leaf remains on-track for its sixth consecutive year of increased Canadian sales.

BMW added 22 i-series vehicles in May, while Mitsubishi sold 6 more i-MiEVs—the same number as it has sold year-to-date in the United States.

READ THIS: Quebec passes Canada’s first zero-emission vehicle rule, to start in 2018

(The pinnacle of the i-MiEV’s Canadian success was in February 2012 when, owing to a shortage of Leafs and Volts, its 20 sales propelled it to the sales crown.)

As usual, Ford C-Max Energi, Ford Fusion Energi and Hyundai Sonata PHEV sales are not provided. As conveyed by 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.”

April registration roundup

April proved to be the third-best ever month for plug-in electric vehicles in Canada. The roughly 1,220 new vehicles (and 8 used-vehicle imports) only fell short of the tallies in March (about 1,430) and last September (about 1,290).

After maintaining a market share north of 0.7 percent in each of the first three months of the new year, April’s market share dropped to 0.62 percent, due largely to softer Tesla sales.

Vehicle registration data indicates that in April, Tesla sold 85 Model Ses and 75 Model Xes, down from 169 Ses and 186 Xes in March.

CHECK OUT: Plug-in Electric Car Sales in Canada for 2016: cresting Everest

Hot on Tesla’s heels, Volvo sold 64 XC90 PHEVs, roughly doubling its March totals. 53 Chrysler Pacifica PHEVs were also registered in Canada in April, along with 52 Audi A3 e-Trons. The Kia Soul EV narrowly missed the “50” mark, with 49 sales. These would seem to represent the second tier of plug-in electric vehicles in Canada, with the rest of the market offering more modest volumes.

BMW saw April sales of 21 i3 hatchbacks, 10 i8 coupes, 21 X5 SUVs, a monthly-best 11 330e sedans and 4 740e luxury plug-ins. Its 67 units fell short of the 79 of the VW stable, with Porsche adding 27 Cayenne S-E Hybrids to the aforementioned Audi A3 e-Trons. Daimler-Benz’s sales continues to lag their countrymen’s competition, with 1 Smart Electric Drive, 8 S550e plug-in hybrid sedans and 10 GLE550e plug-in SUVs.

With respect to used vehicle imports, four additional Fiat 500e compliance cars (never offered for sale in Canada) were registered in April, and the difference between reported sales and registrations suggests that four Nissan Leafs may have arrived in-country as well.  

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