Canadian sales of new zero-emissions vehicles continue to rise in the wake of a federal incentive program aimed at getting more green vehicles on the country’s roads.
National total EV sales were 3.5 per cent of all light-vehicle sales in the third quarter, calculated by Electric Mobility Canada. By comparison, Honda Civic sales accounted for 3.3 per cent of total sales while the Toyota RAV4 accounted for 3.4 per cent, according to the Automotive News Data Center in Detroit.
Third-quarter ZEV sales of 16,091 – a category that includes battery-electric, plug-in hybrid and fuel-cell vehicles, but not conventional hybrids – increased 25 per cent year-over-year in the first full quarter of the availability of federal incentives through Transport Canada’s iZEV program, according to a report released Thursday by Electric Mobility Canada, a national membership-based not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of electric vehicles.
The report also found ZEVs accounted for 10 per cent of new-vehicle sales in B.C. and seven per cent of new sales in Quebec.
“While ZEV adoption has accelerated across Canada, uptake has been strongest in British Columbia and Quebec, the two provinces offering purchase incentives as well as policy mandates requiring that ZEVs represent a steadily increasing proportion of passenger vehicle sales,” the report said.
British Columbia offers a rebate of up to $3,000 on the purchase of a new electric vehicle. That can be used with the federal government’s $5,000 rebate that started in May. The province also makes a rebate of up to $6,000 available through the B.C. Scrap-It program for buyers trading in a vehicle powered by an internal-combustion engine when they purchase an electric vehicle.
Quebec residents have access to a rebate worth up to $8,000 on purchases of new EVs. Quebec also has a quota system that requires auto dealers sell a minimum percentage of electric cars or pay a penalty.
Meanwhile, ZEV sales continue to plummet in Ontario, where the Doug Ford’s Conservative majority government eliminated a provincial incentive in late 2018. Third-quarter sales in that province were down 44 per cent to 3,127 when compared with a year ago.
“Underscoring the role of policy support in making Zero Emission Vehicles financially accessible to the greatest number of Canadian car buyers, the greatest percentage gains have come from provinces where incentives had not yet been offered,” Electric Mobility Canada said in its report.
David Adams, head of the Global Automakers of Canada, said “incentives are currently a pre-requisite for ZEV sales.”
“With rare exception, most people are not willing or able to spend thousands more to purchase a ZEV over an ICE vehicle. The incentive serves to somewhat offset the price differential,” he said in an email to Automotive News Canada. “Previous experience in B.C. and recent experience in Ontario have shown how dramatically ZEV sales fall off once the incentive is removed. So, certainty around the provision of incentives is very important.
“That said, incentives also disrupt the normal operation of the vehicle market so they are a necessary evil.”
TESLA LEADS SALES
The top-selling zero-emissions vehicles in Canada during the third-quarter, according to Electric Mobility Canada, were:
- Tesla Model 3 with 5,529 sales;
- Chevrolet Bolt, 1,122;
- Nissan Leaf, 1,093;
- Toyota Prius Prime, 2,467;
- Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, 1,048.
Adams said the numbers don’t tell the entire story, though.
“The very robust growth in ZEV sales that is being reported neglects to mention that Tesla pushed about 2000 Model 3’s into the market during that time and while ZEV growth will most certainly continue, the B.C. statistics represent an anomaly at this point,” he said in an email to Automotive News Canada.
The Ford F series, the most popular vehicle in Canada, accounted for 7.8 per cent of all new-vehicle sales through the first three quarters.
“Recent confirmations of a plug-in hybrid Toyota RAV4, expected in late 2020, and a battery-electric Ford F150, potentially in 2021, among many other Zero Emission options give reason to believe combined ZEV sales could approach Ford F-series levels early in the coming decade,” Electric Mobility said.