Canada’s Battery Electric Vehicle Registrations Jumped 10% in 2020

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In a year riddled with the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent restrictions, mass layoffs, and a general economic downturn, vehicle registrations fell overall in most regions, including Canada, according to a new report.

A report from Statistics Canada released Thursday shared that there were 1,545,561 new motor vehicles registered in Canada in 2020, down 19.9% from 2019. Along with the overall market, new zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) registrations also dropped to 54,353 in 2020, down from 56,165 ZEV registrations in 2019.

Despite the drop in new ZEV sales, the reduction is right in line with the overall auto market, and it also marks the country’s third consecutive year of declining new motor vehicle sales.

But looking at battery electric vehicles (BEVs), registrations increased 9.9% in 2020, along with diesel-powered vehicles up 9.6% and hybrid electric vehicles up 8%. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles dropped 25.8% and gas-powered cars dipped 22% in 2020, suggesting the electric vehicle movement is increasing.

StatsCan says 71.8% of the new ZEVs registered in 2020 were BEVs, up from 63.2% in 2019. Below are some provincial stats showing the rise in BEVs year-over-year:

  • Quebec saw 65.4% of new ZEVs registered in 2020 as BEVs, up from 56.5% in 2019.
  • In B.C., four-fifths of the new ZEVs registered in British Columbia in 2020 were BEVs at 79.5%.
  • In Ontario, of the 10,515 new ZEVs registered in 2020, 77.6% were BEVs, up from 67.2% in 2019.

A battery electric vehicle, for example, is a Tesla, Nissan Leaf or Chevy Bolt, for example.

The vast majority of new ZEVs were also registered in the third and fourth quarters, with 17,299 and 15,928 registrations, respectively. This perhaps signifies the initial financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced businesses to begin closing and laying off employees in March and April.

Amongst the larger world, one Canadian province actually led the uptick in North America’s ZEVs in 2020, emphasizing that the difference between the huge drop in the overall auto market and the very subtle drop in the EV market is significant.

The Tesla Model 3 and Model Y were the top-selling EV models in Canada throughout 2020, with the Plugin Hybrid EV (PHEV) Toyota Prius taking the country’s third spot.

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