Tesla sales: how much do rebates matter to buyers in Canada?
. . . Two years ago, this site analyzed the impacts on electric-car sales in British Columbia when funding for purchase rebates up to $5,000 ran out in Februrary 2014, and was later restored in April 2015. . . .
Canadian plug-in electric vehicle sales actually rose during the period BC's incentives vanished, so we compared sales trends in British Columbia to those from Ontario and Quebec, the other two provinces with incentive programs. The sales ratio—BC / (ON+QC)—for the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf dropped by half when the purchase rebate disappeared. The ratio then rose slightly above prior levels when the purchase rebate returned.
This seemed to indicate “mass market” plug-in electric vehicle buyers were sufficiently price-sensitive that a $5,000 price increase deterred them from going electric. But the sales ratios for the BMW i3 and Tesla Model S were unaffected during this period—suggesting purchasers of luxury brand plug-in electric vehicles were not so price-sensitive. The BMW i3 went on sale after incentives had vanished, so the first several months’ worth of buyers might not have been price-sensitive—or they may have been electric-car supporters loyal to BMW, who were going to buy an i3 regardless of price.
The minuscule rise in the Model S sales ratio after incentives disappeared seemed to indicate Tesla buyers to that point also weren’t price sensitive. (The increase probably wasn't statistically significant.) But the halving of sales for the Volt and Leaf when rebates expired was roughly in line with a 2013 analysis of the American auto market by base-model price point.
That study found that each $5,000 increase in base-model recommended price, from $25,000 to $50,000, seemed to shrink the market by 40 percent. Put differently, sales of autos with a starting price of $40,000 and above were 40 percent lower than sales of those at $35,000 and above, which were themselves 40 percent lower than sales of vehicles starting at $30,000 and above.
These examples are subject to so-called “noise factors”. Buyers rarely buy base-model vehicles, and dealers and carmakers sometimes discount their products. Still, the rough agreement between the two data sets seemed to suggest they were in the right ballpark. . . .