Canadian Manufacturing

2017 another banner year for electric vehicles: Canadian sales jump 68 per cent

A new vehicle earned the top sales crown for battery electric cars last year as the total number of EVs on Canadian roads closed in on 50,000

The Chevy Bolt was the best-selling battery electric vehicle in Canada last year. PHOTO: General Motors

WATERLOO, Ont.—The rapid rise of electric vehicles on Canadian streets hit another new benchmark in 2017 as drivers traded in their gas and diesel cars for EVs and automakers injected new electrified models into the fast-growing market.

Canadian EV sales topped out at a record 18,560 last year, increasing 68 per cent over their 2016 vehicle tally of 11,023, according to a report released last week by Waterloo, Ont.-based FleetCarma. The study included sales of both plug-in hybrids and battery electric vehicles.

With sales accelerating across the country, Ontario emerged as the largest buyer of electrics by province 2017—wresting the title from Quebec for the first time. Ontarians purchased 7,477 EVs last year, a 120 per cent increase over 2016, the study from the fleet management and telematics firm said.

Sales in Canada’s three other significant markets also picked last year, increasing 44 per cent, 53 per cent and 26 per cent in Quebec, B.C. and Alberta respectively. Greater availability of charging stations coast to coast and improving economics of electrics are two factors playing a major role in the maturing market.

A new vehicle also took over the top sales spot for battery electrics in 2017. Canadians purchased over 2,000 Chevrolet Bolts from January to December, eclipsing sales of the Tesla’s Model X (1,806), Tesla Model S (1,675) and Nissan’s Leaf (1,380).

The Chevy Volt continues to sit atop the Canadian hybrid market with 4,340 vehicles sold in 2017.

While the Canadian market was once dominated by plug-in hybrids, last year battery electrics gained significant traction over their counterparts with sales growth of 92 per cent, compared to 48 per cent for hybrids.

Meanwhile, EVs were not the only winners in the Canadian automotive market last year. Vehicle sales hit an all-time high of just over 2 million in 2017, according to automotive consultancy DesRosier—a fifth-straight year of record sales.

Dealerships moving light trucks—a category that includes SUVs—fuelled the overall sales increase. Light truck sales increased 8.7 per cent to nearly 1.4 million vehicles last year as passenger cars sales declined 3.4 per cent to about 640,000 cars, according to DesRosier.

Electric technology is steadily taking hold, but still makes up a fraction of the overall Canadian car market. EV sales accounted for slightly less than one per cent of all vehicle sales in Canada in 2017.

The segment is expected to hit another milestone by the end of this month when FleetCarma projects the total number of electric vehicles on Canadian roads will accelerate past 50,000.

You can read a complete breakdown of the study here.

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