About Canada EV Sales

Chronicling the Canadian Plug-in Electric Vehicle Market

About Me

Our family bought a plug-in hybrid in late 2012.

I enjoy statistics — I can probably name the past 50 Stanley Cup winning teams, most of the losing teams, and how many games the Finals went — and became curious to know who else was buying electric cars. Several sites already tracked U.S. EV sales, but no one was doing so for Canada. So, I decided to.

The photo above was taken at Imperial Palace in Japan. On the stone is part of the character for “electricity” — the stone marked a buried power line.

About The Data

To view the data in its own tab, navigate to tinyurl.com/CanadaEVSales.

In Canada, only some manufacturers report monthly plug-in electric vehicle sales. Data from IHS Markit, via Electric Mobility Canada, is used for the rest, and provincial data. Analyst estimates have been necessary in some cases.

Data is free to reproduce with credit, e.g. “source: CanadaEVSales.com, based on manufacturer reports, IHS Markit (via Electric Mobility Canada) and analyst estimates.”

For more detailed data (provincial sales, market share, NRCan efficiency figures, etc.) contact me and I will try to be of assistance.

The image above is from SearchEngineLand.com.

Highlights

By far the biggest highlight of this EV sales tracking adventure has been the opportunity to help others — students, researchers, journalists, members of the public — with information. And better still, context for that information. As Adam Smith more-verbosely noted in his Theory of Moral Sentiments, it feels good to feel useful.

A few specific highlights from six-plus years of electric car chronicling (including fuel cells) are:

Aug 2013: First to publish monthly Tesla vehicle sales data

After being sent Canadian vehicle registration data, I became the first person to publish monthly Tesla vehicle sales figures — as opposed to estimates. At this point, Tesla only sold the Model S in the United States and Canada, and no one was publishing U.S. Tesla vehicle registration data. Which left me that opening.

* Tesla still doesn’t divulge monthly sales data. 

April 2014: plug-ins became 1% of Norway's cars

In April 2014, I was the first English-language writer to commemorate when plug-in electric vehicles became 1% of Norway’s passenger vehicle fleet. (Not just 1% of new passenger vehicle sales, but 1% of all the passenger vehicles in the country.) 

I’d begun following the rise of Norway’s EV market in 2013, and waited each month for the registration data to come out. In early April, a Norwegian website announced the milestone, and I made sure I was the first to write it up. The article is (or was at point) cited in the first paragraph of the Wikipedia page on Plug-in Electric Vehicles in Norway. Others are now able to follow such markets more closely, so they’ll be the ones announcing future milestones.

Canadian case studies on the effect of EV incentives

BC’s plug-in electric vehicle purchase incentives (up to C$5000) were allowed to expire in early 2014. That September, I wrote about the impact this had, by comparing EV sales trends in BC (where incentives vanished) compared to Ontario and Quebec (where they remained in place). The sales ratio for the Tesla Model S didn’t seem affected, but the sales ratio for mass-market EVs such as the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt dropped by about half. After rebates were restored in early 2015, I found that sales ratios for mass-market EVs returned to roughly the prior levels. I like to imagine my work helped inform the now-common policy of excluding high-end EVs from purchase incentive programs, but that’s probably more a matter of correlation than causation!

In March 2018, I looked at the impact of BC, Ontario and Quebec excluding high-end EVs from incentive programs on Tesla sales. This time, Tesla buyers in BC and Quebec — but not Ontario — appeared to be price-sensitive, as sales ratios (compared to the other provinces) declined when incentives were cancelled.

Giving fair credit to fuel cells

While fuel cells were directly responsible for my wife and I meeting, they’ve have gotten a bad rap over the years in progressive climate circles. It’s been a delight to help rehabilitate the technology in the eyes of many.

I suspect the antipathy stems largely from George W. Bush praising hydrogen and fuel cells in his 2003 State of the Union address — making them evil by association in the eyes of many. The reverse is happening today with plug-in electric vehicles, with conservatives scorning a fantastic technology because it’s associated with California generally, Tesla specifically, and has received generous policy support.

Most of my fuel cell coverage has been for GreenTech Media. Among other pieces, I’ve explained why Amazon is converting its distribution centres from battery forklifts to fuel cell forklifts, why Japan is bullish on hydrogen, and how the technology is scaling up exactly along the path that solar panels and wind turbines took in prior decades. Ignoring fuel cells in 2017 will probably prove to’ve been as unwise as ignoring solar energy in 2002.

I’ve also had the pleasure of contributing to the Fuel Cell Industry Review in 2015 and co-authoring it in 2017.

Tesla's turn for the worse

Those who follow me on Twitter or subscribe to my monthly-ish newsletter know that I think dimly of Tesla’s prospects and distrust Elon Musk’s bombast. It wasn’t always so.

Red flags had begun piling up by the time the turning point came for me, with the reporting by journalist Ed Niedermeyer that Tesla’s vaunted battery-swap station in California was essentially vapourware that allowed Tesla to claim potentially $100,000,000s in undeserved regulatory credits through the California Air Resources Board. When sums that big are involved, it’s hard to believe in innocent errors. 

From 2017 to 2018 I wrote a trilogy of articles, of sorts. The first suggested that Musk was at risk of going from hero to villain; the second that Tesla would lose the support of progressives; the third argued that the Koch Brothers could not have impaired Tesla’s future as badly as Musk has done

At time of writing in late 2018, I don’t know how Musk’s arc will end — but with Tesla hemorrhaging its dwindling cash reserves, persistent quality problems and an onslaught of competition arriving from established automakers, I don’t foresee a hero’s sendoff. That the SEC, Department of Justice, NLRB, and major fraud-detecting-specialist short-sellers are now lined up against Tesla only adds to the omens against it.