Market Snapshot: Record-high electric vehicle sales in Canada

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Release date: 2022-10-26

Electric vehicle (EV) sales are increasing in Canada and across the world.Footnote1 A record 86,032 electric vehicles were registered in Canada in 2021, making up 5.3% of total vehicle registrations for that year. In comparison, there were 56,165 electric vehicles registrations (2.9% of total registrations) in 2019 and 19,696 (1% of total registrations) in 2017. The first quarter of 2022 saw the highest EV quarterly registrations on record,Footnote2 at 26,018 (7.7% of total registrations for the period). Battery electric vehicles (BEVs) make up roughly 75% of new electric vehicle registrations, with the rest going to plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV). See Table 1 for a description of the different vehicle types.

Figure 1: Share of electric vehicle in total new vehicle registrations

Source and Description

Source: Statistics Canada, Table 20-10-0024-01.

Description: This chart shows the share of electric vehicles (battery electric and plug-in hybrid electric) in total new vehicle registrations between the first quarter of 2017 (Q1 2017) and the second quarter of 2022 (Q2 2022).

In 2021, most new electric vehicles were registered in Canada’s three most populous provinces. 43% of new electric vehicles were registered in Quebec, 28% in British Columbia, and 23% in Ontario.

The sharp increase in new electric vehicle registrations contrasts with a 19% decline in total new registrations from 2017 to 2021. New registrations of non-electric vehicles (all categories except battery electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles) fell 23% over the same period. This decline is likely due to many factors that negatively impacted supply or demand of new vehicles. These include an increase in retail sales of used cars,Footnote3 reduced demand for transportation during the COVID-19 pandemic,Footnote4 low inventories of new vehicles available for sale,Footnote5 and growing electric vehicle market share.

Figure 2: New vehicle registrations by region and fuel typeFootnote6

Source and Description

Source: Statistics Canada, Table 20-10-0024-01.

Description: New vehicle registrations in Canada by province and fuel type from 2017 to the second quarter of 2022 (Q1 and Q2 2022 only). Electric vehicles are either battery electric or plug-in hybrid electric. Gasoline, hybrid electric, diesel and other fuel types all rely mainly or solely on an internal combustion engine.

Every year, more electric vehicle models reach mass market, and they are becoming more competitive in markets still dominated by internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. Car manufacturers are adapting to consumers’ growing preference for larger vehiclesFootnote7 by developing new, larger electric vehiclesFootnote8. As a result, registrations of large electric vehicles outpaced electric passenger cars for the first time in 2021, and the trend is likely to continue.

Figure 3: New electric vehicle registrations by vehicle and fuel type

Source and Description

Source: Statistics Canada, Table 20-10-0024-01.

Description: New vehicle registrations in Canada by fuel and vehicle type, from 2017 to 2022 (first and second quarter of 2022 only). Electric vehicles are either battery electric or plug-in hybrid electric.

Aside from an increasing number of electric vehicle modelsFootnote9 across vehicle types, many factors can help explain the growing market share of electric vehicles. These include increasing range between vehicle charging,Footnote10 better charging infrastructure,Footnote11 competitive fuel economy and cost,Footnote12 lower greenhouse gas emissions,Footnote13 lower maintenance cost,Footnote14 and government incentives.Footnote15 A recent surveyFootnote16 by Ernst & Young indicates that 46% of respondents are planning to purchase an electric vehicle instead of an internal combustion engine vehicle for their next purchase.

The Government of Canada is setting a mandatory targetFootnote17 for all new passenger cars and trucks sales to be zero-emission by 2035, accelerating Canada’s previous goal of 100% of sales by 2040. The mandate also includes fuel cell electric (hydrogen) powered vehicles.Footnote18

Table 1: Vehicle type definitionsFootnote19

Vehicle type

Definition

Electric vehicle (EV)

Any vehicle that is primarily fueled by electricity. EVs are either battery electric vehicles (BEVs) or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). Hybrid electric vehicles (HEV) are excluded from this category because they cannot be plugged in.

Battery electric vehicle (BEV)

Battery electric vehicles are vehicles powered solely by a rechargeable battery pack and produce zero tailpipe emissions.

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV)

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles are vehicles with a rechargeable battery pack and an internal combustion engine. They run on electric power until the battery is drained and then the internal combustion engine takes over for propulsion.

Hybrid electric vehicle (HEV)

Hybrid electric vehicles are vehicles with a rechargeable battery pack, which provides an extra boost of power, in addition to having an internal combustion engine.

Internal combustion engine vehicle (ICE)

Any vehicle that is primarily fueled by the combustion of a fuel, generally gasoline or diesel, in an internal heat engine.

Multi-purpose vehicle (MPV)

Multi-purpose vehicles include sports utility vehicles (SUVs) and Crossovers.

Pickup trucks

Pickup trucks correspond to gross vehicle weight rate (GVWR) ranging from 0-14,000 Ib (e.g., classes 1, 2, and 3).

Passenger car

Vehicle designed or adapted primarily to carry people on highways and streets. It seats a driver and no more than eight passengers.

Large vehicles

The large vehicles category includes multi-purpose vehicles (SUVs), pickup trucks, and vans. This category also applies to large electric vehicles.

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