Zero-emission vehicle registrations in Canada top 6 per cent for first time ever in Q4 2021News
Apr 22, 2022
Emma Jarratt

While registrations fell in absolute numbers across the board in Q4 versus Q3, the market share of battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles reached a new high of nearly 6.2 per cent, according to Statistics Canada. For the year, ZEV market share was 5.2 per cent, up from 3.5 per cent in 2020

Statistic’s Canada latest release of ZEV registration data shows market share growth both in Q4 2021 and for the full year.

While registrations fell in absolute numbers across the board in Q4 versus Q3, the market share of battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles reached a new high of nearly 6.2 per cent, according to Statistics Canada. For the year, ZEV market share was 5.2 per cent, up from 3.5 per cent in 2020

Zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) sales held strong in the four quarter of 2021, with 20,779 new registrations across Canada, of which 14,021 were battery electric, says new data from Statistics Canada.

The Q4 ZEV total represented nearly 6.2 per cent of all vehicle registrations, the first quarter in which overall market share has topped six per cent. In Q3 2021, the ZEV market share was 5.4 percent.

In absolute numbers, meanwhile, total ZEV registrations fell in Q4 compared to Q3, when they were 23,962 ZEV registrations. However, the relative decline in total vehicle registrations was even greater.

For the year as a whole, Canada’s ZEV market share was 5.2 per cent, up from 3.5 per cent for the full year 2020.

(In its tallies, StatsCan places both battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) in its “zero-emission vehicle” category. This grouping does not reflect Electric Autonomy Canada‘s view, which considers only non-combustion engine vehicles to be zero-emission. Where statistics refer to ZEVs, we have adhered to StatsCan’s definition for consistency.)

Looking solely at battery electric vehicles, Canada added 58,726 new BEVs to its roads in 2021 — an increase of 19,690 from 2020, or 50.4 per cent. BEVs’ total market penetration in 2021 was 3.6 per cent, up from 2.5 per cent in 2020.

In terms of types of ZEVs being sold, StatsCan data shows that 42.1 per cent of new registrations in 2021 were passenger cars, while 56.5 per cent were “multi-purpose vehicles.” StatsCan defines multi-purpose vehicles as “sports utility vehicles (SUVs) and Crossovers.”

Provincial trends

Q4 saw a slight slump in every province and territory for new ZEV registrations, except Ontario and Saskatchewan where registrations jumped from 5,162 in Q3 to 6,139 in Q4 and 131 in Q3 to 143 in Q4, respectively. Neither Ontario or Saskatchewan offer ZEV purchase rebates, but both jurisdiction had their strongest green vehicle registration growth of 2021 in Q4 — nearly double Q1 new registrations in Ontario’s case.

Meanwhile, Quebec saw the greatest slide, from 10,611 in Q3 to 7,504 in Q4. The province also lowered its new ZEV purchase rebate from $8,000 to $7,000 in April 2022, the impact of which remains to be seen in future quarters.

Overall, Quebec and British Columbia still lead Canada in terms of greatest adoption numbers, accounting for 22,412 and 18,038 new BEV registrations, respectively, in 2021. In B.C., overall BEV adoption was at 8.8 per cent, while Quebec sat at 5.4 per cent.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the results from Q4 is that Ontario had the most new registrations of all the provinces for BEVs — beating out both B.C. and Quebec — despite only having a paltry 2.4 per cent BEV adoption rate.

Other provinces and territories are showing increased adoption trends, too.

“In 2021, 93.4% of new zero-emission vehicles were registered in Canada’s three largest provinces, with 42.8% of new ZEVs registered in Quebec, 27.7% of new ZEVs in British Columbia, and 22.9% of new ZEVs in Ontario,” reads the StatsCan report. By comparison, those three provinces held a 96.9 per cent ZEV market share in 2018.

In total for 2021, StatsCan data shows the new ZEV registrations (including BEVs and PHEVs) for the following provinces: Prince Edward Island added 174 ZEVs; New Brunswick added 472 ZEVs; Quebec added 36,800 ZEVs; Ontario added 19,726 ZEVs; Manitoba added 631 ZEVs; Saskatchewan added 478 ZEVs; B.B. added 23,767 ZEVs; Yukon added 67 ZEVs; and Northwest Territories added 16 ZEVs.

StatsCan does not disclosed segregated sales data from Newfoundland and Labrador, Alberta or Nova Scotia, however those provinces’ vehicle registrations are included in the national total.

Overall, 1,646,609 new motor vehicles were registered in 2021 in Canada, says StatsCan — a 6.5. per cent increase from 2020.

Federal incentive program update

On the same day that StatsCan released the Q4 data, Transport Canada announced the details of changes to the Incentives for Zero-Emission Vehicles Program first signalled in the recent federal budget.

As of April 25, the base model Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price cutoff below which cars are eligible for the program will increase by $10,000, to $55,000. For larger zero-emission vehicles, including SUVs, minivans and pickup trucks, the base model MSRP threshold will be $60,000. In both cases, higher-priced versions of these vehicles will also be eligible up to $65,000 and $70,000, respectively.

“Today’s announcement is about making sure Canadians have the options they need — whether you want to make your next family car, or your ride to work, a zero-emission vehicle,” said Omar Alghabra, minister of transport, in a press release.

Through the end of March, more than 141,000 purchase rebates for ZEVs had been claimed under the iZEV program, which began in May 2019. Details of those rebates are available here.

StatsCan’s report on Q4 2021 registrations can be found here.

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