Canada's Q1 2021 EV sales data

Quebec and B.C. continue to lead Canada in overall ZEV registrations, but a host of second-tier EV markets — Ontario, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, New Brunswick and PEI — saw the biggest Q1 increases

New data from Statistics Canada shows Canadians from coast-to-coast are continuing their steady adoption of electric vehicles and hybrids.

In the first quarter of this year, Canadians registered 11.8 per cent more new motor vehicles than in the same quarter in 2020. New zero-emission vehicle registrations — which combines plug-in hybrids and battery electric — saw a 1.1 per cent jump from the same quarter last year to 4.6 per cent (from 3.5 per cent). Double the number of hybrid vehicles were registered across Canada compared to Q1 2020, while battery electric vehicles saw a 0.9 per cent increase from last year’s first quarter.

Statistics Canada does breakdown the different fuel types and differentiates between battery electric and hybrid or plug-in hybrid vehicles, however its umbrella percentage figures consider both plug-in hybrid and battery electric to be “zero-emission vehicles.” This grouping does not reflect Electric Autonomy Canada‘s usual method, but we have maintained StatsCan’s definitions and data breakdown for continuity.

In total across Canada 12,693 battery electric, 14,278 hybrid and 4,592 plug-in hybrid vehicles were registered from January 1 to March 31 this year.

Province-by-province

While more combustion engine vehicles were registered in the first quarter of 2021 versus last year, the total market share of gasoline-powered vehicles fell — to 86.8 per cent of new registrations from 90.1 per cent in Q1 2020.

Over three-quarters of new zero-emission vehicles were registered in Quebec (6,901) and British Columbia (6,119). B.C.’s provincial numbers are combined with data from the territories.

RegionBattery Electric
Vehicles (BEVs)
All Vehicles BEVs as %
of Total Sales
CANADA12,693375,8263.34%
British Columbia4,82650,9739.48%
Quebec4,70885,4865.51%
Ontario2,568141,7881.81%
Prince Edward Island121,7590.68%
Saskatchewan7011,5060.61%
New Brunswick378,1050.45%
Manitoba5311,6970.45%
Table shows vehicle sales in provinces where data is available

Ontario saw the greatest overall market share increase for ZEVs and even those provinces historically lagging in adoption — Saskatchewan, Manitoba, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island — all saw an marked increase in ZEV registrations.

StatsCan data from Q1 2021 does not reflect registrations from Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Alberta due to, “contractual limitations of the existing data sharing agreement,” but the government body confirms they are included in the Canadian total.

First look at local data

For the first time, StatsCan compiled local breakdowns of ZEV registrations across Canada, which gives a clearer picture of where adoption is excelling and which communities still need assistance.

The most new battery electric registrations in the first quarter were in Vancouver, with 4,500 vehicles, followed by Montreal with 3,633 and Toronto with 1,875.

Outside of those three key metropolitan areas in Canada, adoption drops off precipitously. Ottawa-Gatineau, for example, only saw 213 new battery electric registrations in the same period.

Even in B.C., adoption outside of Vancouver was lacklustre. The next-leading community in the province is Victoria, with 432 new registrations. And in Quebec, outside of Montreal, Quebec City logged just 598 new registrations.

However, in jurisdictions like Winnipeg, Saskatoon and Regina, relatively speaking to the existing EV market-share, adoption was robust with 76, 59 and 23 new registrations, respectively.

In total, there were 13 new registration in municipal jurisdictions measured in the Territories — 12 in Whitehorse and one in Yellowknife. These communities can be viewed at a local data breakdown level and seen as separate from the B.C. provincial data.

2 comments
  1. Interesting results, though for the cities you aren’t taking their population into account. Using estimated 2020 CMA populations from Wikipedia, the top cities for ZEV sales per 100,000 people are:
    Vancouver 164
    Victoria 106
    Montreal 83
    Quebec City 72
    Toronto 46
    Saskatoon 18
    Ottawa–Gatineau 15
    Winnipeg 9
    Regina 9
    Even better would be to rank percentage of vehicle sales per city.

  2. Ontario MUST offer and match or exceed Quebec’s provicial rebate of $8,000.
    In combination with the federal rebate of $5,000 ($13,000 total) would greatly
    assist affordability with the still-high price of current EV offerings. That Ontario
    speaks of ‘big plans’ for an EV future without backing it up with provincial rebates
    enabling far greater adoption is politically/environmentaly both irresponsible and
    short-sighted.

    pete jasz

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