Car News

Smallest SUVs Way Up, Smallest Cars Drop Hardest in 2017

Vehicle sales were up overall in 2017, but subcompact SUVs and plug-in electric vehicles increased the most in popularity among new vehicle buyers. And subcompact cars didn't fare so well, newly released Canadian sales figures by segment for 2017 show.

Last year saw the Canadian vehicle market hit record sales. Sales topped two million cars, trucks, and SUVs for the first time, reaching 2,043,943. That's up 95,000 from 2016. But not every segment showed big gains.

Subcompact SUVs showed the biggest growth amongst all non-EV segments in 2017, up 32.6 percent according to data from DesRosiers Automotive Consultants. That put the segment at 69,458 units for the year.

The other big gains were in luxury cars and trucks. The high-end of that luxury segment was up 17.8 percent, the second highest in growth. All luxury SUV segments saw growth in 2017. Compact luxury utility vehicles showed the most with 15.5 percent.

Luxury vehicles are still a small part of the overall market, though, making up 11.6 percent of sales in Canada. Of those luxury sales, 61.2 percent of them were light trucks like pricey pickups and SUVs.

Car segments made up most of the sales declines. The subcompact segment was down 20.3 percent, and intermediate cars were down 13.5 percent. Sports cars dropped nearly one percent, and compact luxury cars were down 6.6 percent.

Sales of electric and plug-in hybrid cars showed big gains too, according to data from FleetCarma. Ontario saw a 120 percent growth in sales of plug-in vehicles. Sales jumped from 3,400 in 2016 to 7,477 in 2017. That number puts the province ahead of Quebec for the first time as well, which saw sales climb 44 percent to 7,194. The biggest climb in plug-in sales was in New Brunswick, although that 124 percent jump translated to just 53 sales.

The addition of new electric vehicles to the market like the Chevrolet Bolt EV, Hyundai Ioniq, and Volkswagen eGolf meant that fully electric vehicle sales topped plug-in hybrid sales for the first time across Canada. In 2017, 9,840 battery electric vehicles were sold, up 92 percent. Plug-in hybrids saw 8,730 sales, up 48 percent.

Battery electric sales in Ontario were up 148 percent to 3,682, Quebec saw sales up 73 percent to 3,653, and BC sales were up 68 percent to 2,194.

The most popular BEV (all-electric) in Canada was the Chevrolet Bolt EV, with 2,107 sales. The Tesla Model X was second with 1,803 sales and the Model S was close behind with 1,675. The Nissan Leaf slid slightly from 1,572 to 1,380 sales, but a new model was announced mid-year, which likely contributed.

The top selling plug-in hybrids were the Chevrolet Volt, up 24 percent to 4,340 sales, followed by the Chrysler Pacifica plug-in which saw 838 sales in its first full year.

At the end of the year, 48,000 vehicles with a plug were on Canadian roads, which means that the segment will likely hit 50,000 sometime this month.