Stylized upward sloping graph with the title 'Q1 2022 EV sales'
New car registration totals for the first quarter of 2022 show electric vehicle uptake in Canada is not slowing down. Instead, it’s gathering speed.

Battery electrics drove the entire increase, reaching 6.2 per cent market share; new model offerings and higher gas prices get credit for the surge

New car registration totals for the first quarter of 2022 show electric vehicle uptake in Canada is not slowing down. Instead, it’s gathering speed.

According to London-based consulting firm IHS Markit, zero-emission vehicles (ZEV, which include battery electric and plug-in hybrid) made up 8.3 per cent of new vehicle registrations between Jan. 1 and March 31. That’s the equivalent of one out of every 12 vehicles.

By comparison, in the fourth quarter of 2021, by IHS data, the ZEV market share accounted for 6.5 per cent of registrations. Given that the Q4 figure itself reflected a gain from 5.6 per cent in Q3 of 2021, the short-term trend suggests a steepening curve.

“Inventory constraints, new BEV and PHEV entrants, and increased fuel prices have accelerated the uptake of BEV and PHEV vehicles in the Canadian market,” stated IHS Markit in its quarterly “Automotive Insights” report.

Battery electrics lead the way

Perhaps even more striking, the Q1 ZEV share increase was fueled entirely by growth in registrations of battery electric vehicles (BEV), which jumped to 6.2 per cent from 4.2 in Q4 2021. Plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), on the other hand, fell slightly in Q1 versus Q4.

While the IHS Markit report doesn’t provide raw registration data, it did say that the volume of BEV registrations jumped by 52 per cent versus Q1 2021, while for all ZEVs the increase was 48 per cent.

Meanwhile, the overall new vehicle market shrunk, with total registrations down 9.3 per cent in Q1 2022 versus Q1 2021.

Looking at the share of new ZEV registrations by province, British Columbia and Quebec — the only two jurisdictions with both provincial buyer incentive programs and manufacturer sales mandates to augment the federal iZEV program — continued to be well ahead of the curve on electrification adoption.

ZEV registrations in B.C. in Q1 2022 made up 17.1 per cent of the total market share of new vehicle registrations, up from 14.8 per cent in Q4 2021 and 13.5 per cent in Q1 2021.

Quebec, meanwhile, saw zero-emission vehicle market share rise to 13.6 per cent in Q1, up from 10.1 per cent in Q4 and 8.6 per cent in Q1 of 2021. Quebec’s 5.1 per cent year-over-year share differential was the greatest of any province.

Ontario, which doesn’t offer any provincial EV incentives, recorded the third largest provincial share of ZEV registrations in Q1 2022, at 5.7 per cent. That’s a jump from 4.6 per cent in Q4 2021 and up from 2.5 per cent in Q1 of last year.

Ontario tops B.C. in ZEV volume

From a volume standpoint, Ontario accounted for 28 per cent of all ZEV registrations in Canada, two percentage points greater than B.C., in Q1 2022. Quebec’s volume share eclipsed both, as that province accounted for 39 per cent of all ZEV registrations in Canada in the quarter.

Notably, Prince Edward Island ranked fourth in the Q1 report, with ZEV registrations at 3.8 per cent market share. This compares to a much smaller 1.2 per cent share in the first quarter of 2021, and reflects the impact of the province having had its own rebate program for a full year.

In the Prairie provinces, growth in market share was modest year over year: Alberta (up 1.9 to 3.1 per cent), Saskatchewan (up 0.4 to 1.5 per cent), and Manitoba (up 1.5 to 2.4 per cent).

As for Canada’s three biggest cities, Vancouver led the charge with a 21.6 per cent ZEV registration rate. Montreal (17.1 per cent) and Toronto (7.6 per cent) came in second and third place respectively. 

You can find the IHS Markit report here.