Zero-emission vehicle market share in Canada rose to 3.5 per cent in 2020, according to StatsCan’s official release
Apr 23, 2021
Emma Jarratt

The data, released with an enhanced set of market trackers, shows that while the raw total of battery and plug-in hybrid EVs sold was down slightly from 2019, percentage growth was up in a year when the entire auto sector was set back by COVID-19

The data, released with an enhanced set of market trackers, shows that while the raw total of battery and plug-in hybrid EVs sold was down slightly from 2019, percentage growth was up in a year when the entire auto sector was set back by COVID-19

StatsCan’s numbers are in and, overall, it’s a good news story for zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) adoption rates in Canada, which appear to have suffered only a minor hit due to the COVID effect.

In total, StatsCan reports there were 54,353 new ZEVs (battery electric and plug-in hybrid electric combined) registered in Canada in 2020 — a modest 1,812 vehicle drop from 2019. On a percentage basis relative to the entire auto sector, however, ZEV sales were up, accounting for 3.52 per cent of new registrations in Canada for the year, compared to just 2.91 per cent in 2019.

Parse the data a bit further and two other encouraging indicators emerge. First, the majority of ZEV registrations came in the third and fourth quarters, suggesting momentum carrying into 2021. And second, for the year, 71.8 per cent of the new ZEVs registered were fully battery electric, an 8.6 per cent jump from 2019.

Province-by-province breakdown

Unsurprisingly, the greatest number of ZEVs — a whopping 95.4 per cent — were sold in Canada’s three biggest provinces: British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec.

In B.C., zero-emission vehicles accounted for 8.4 per cent of the province’s total new vehicle registrations, making B.C. the leading province in Canada for adoption on a percentage basis.

In terms of actual vehicle sales, Quebec is the provincial leader. The 26,102 ZEVs registered there in 2020 represented nearly half of all ZEV registrations in Canada. In percentage terms, ZEVs accounted for 6.8 per cent of new registrations in Quebec in 2020, up from 5.9 per cent in 2019.

In Ontario, 1.8 per cent of new vehicle registrations were ZEVs — up from 1.2 per cent in 2019. Total number of ZEVs registered in Ontario in 2020 (10,515) were up from 2019 levels (9,762), but not yet hitting the 2018 peak (16,365).

The leading cities in order of adoption rates are: Victoria, Vancouver, Montreal, Quebec City, Toronto and Ottawa.

More data and tools from StatsCan

While this release of the government’s official year-end vehicle sales data has come out later than reports from other private corporate sources, an added benefit is that StatsCan has launched new visuals tools that present the data for easy, everyday use.

Its new motor vehicle registrations data visualizations tool, for example, makes it easy to see the sales breakdown by fuel type and as well as battery electric versus plug-in hybrid versus non-plug-in hybrid. Its automotive statistics portal has also been revised.

A StatsCan spokesperson also told Electric Autonomy Canada that while its Canadian vehicle registration totals are based on data from all 13 provinces and territories, data from the Territories are combined with B.C. for confidentiality purposes, while individual breakdowns are not provided for Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and Alberta due to the terms of its data-sharing agreements with those provinces.

StatsCan is negotiating to modify those agreements and hopes to publish those provincial figures in future.

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