Pick a side. In the red corner, you’ll find hundreds of new vehicles still outfitted with internal combustion engines. In the blue corner, dozens of fully electric vehicles are now on the market in Canada with heaps of battery power. Are you going to make your stops at Shell or a supercharger? Are you going to alert your friends to your environmental stand or show up at the drag strip with a supercharged V8? Are you ready to decide between tar sands and lithium extraction?

Or are you prepared, when presented with a fork in the road, to find a middle tine? Most Canadians aren’t, to be honest. With federal rebates of either $2,500 or even an EV-matching $5,000, PHEVs aren’t ruled out of the incentive game the way conventional hybrids are. Yet while the federal government paid out rebates for 17,563 fully electric vehicles in the first-half of 2022, there were only 10,263 rebates delivered for new plug-in hybrids.

Twenty different PHEV nameplates were eligible for participation in Canada’s iZEV program through the end of June, but over half of the rebates were collected by just four vehicles. Meanwhile, there were seven vehicles collecting iZEV rebates in 2022 that weren’t on the market a year ago; three others dropped out due to discontinuation.

The criteria for Transport Canada’s Zero-Emissions Vehicle Program was altered — effective April 25, 2022 — to enable higher-priced EVs and PHEVs to participate. The floor was moved up to $55,000; the ceiling for SUVs and trucks was bumped up to $70,000 provided the model line’s base MSRP was below $60,000. With this change, plus the simple fact that many high-priced PHEVs are still ineligible, we can’t say that this is a definitive look at the 10 highest-volume plug-in hybrids in Canada in 2022’s first-half. Moreover, many of these vehicles were ordered way back in 2021 and only delivered — and thus rebated — in 2022.

Nevertheless, as an indicator of where PHEV money is being spent at a host of primarily volume-oriented brands, Transport Canada’s data is far more transparent than the EV/PHEV info from virtually every automaker. These were Canada’s most frequently rebated plug-in hybrids during 2022’s first six months.

10. BMW 330e: 345, up 161 per cent

Overall, BMW 3 Series sales are down 30 per cent to only 1,564 units in 2022. Based on those figures alone, the plug-in 330e, despite its sub-40-km EV range, is becoming an important component of the 3 Series mix. It certainly doesn’t hurt the 330e’s case that it only costs $2,240 more than a basic 3 Series. Restricted by its small battery, the 330e is only eligible for a $2,500 iZEV rebate.

9. Kia Niro PHEV: 427, down 21 per cent

Preparing for a switch to second-generation form this year, the Kia Niro is the only vehicle on this list available as a conventional hybrid, full electric, or plug-in hybrid. Transport Canada reported 425 Niro EV deliveries in 2022’s first-half. Kia reported 1,203 total Niro sales. Like the 330e, the Niro PHEV is eligible for the minimum $2,500 iZEV rebate.

driving by numbers: canada's 10 best-selling plug-in hybrids in 2022's first half, kinda sorta
8. Toyota RAV4 Prime: 656, down 80 per cent

Clearly a victim of the supply crunch, Toyota RAV4 Prime volume plunged from a class-leading 3,298 units (as reported by Transport Canada) in 2021’s first-half to only 656 in the equivalent period of 2022. Eligible for the full $5,000 iZEV rebate, Toyota says the RAV4 Prime cranks out 302 horsepower and has a theoretical range of 979 kilometres on a combined full charge and full tank of fuel.

7. Hyundai Santa Fe Plug-In Hybrid: 666

Across the Hyundai lineup, there are five different MY2022 vehicles eligible for the federal government’s rebate program, four of which can claim the full $5,000. Combined, those vehicles gathered up 7,298 rebates from Transport Canada during the first-half of 2022, 9 per cent of which were Santa Fe Hybrids. The plug-in Santa Fe’s platform partner from Kia, the Sorento PHEV, earned 220 of its own rebates.

driving by numbers: canada's 10 best-selling plug-in hybrids in 2022's first half, kinda sorta

2022 Jeep Wrangler 4xe in limited-edition Tuscadero pearl-coat exterior paint Photo by Stellantis

6. Jeep Wrangler 4xe: 924

Insert gigantic asterisk here. Jeep actually says the Wrangler is Canada’s best-selling plug-in hybrid in 2022. What gives? Well, we’re tracking sales through Transport Canada’s first-half tally of vehicles that received federal rebates. Most of the Wrangler PHEVs delivered early in 2022 weren’t eligible, and even after the government adjusted price eligibility downward, a fancifully optioned high-end Wrangler still sits above the $70,000 marker. Stellantis, Jeep’s parent company, says around one-fifth of the Wrangler’s volume is now 4xe-derived — that translates to roughly 450 plug-in Wranglers per month. Eligible Wranglers receive the $5,000 iZEV rebate.

5. Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV: 986, up 11 per cent

Forging ahead on the third-generation Outlander platform alongside the conventionally powered fourth-gen Outlander, Mitsubishi’s plug-in hybrid Outlander is due to be swapped out for a new model later this year. It’ll feature a 45-per-cent increase in battery size, and unlike the previous Outlander PHEV, will allow for three-row seating. In the meantime, remaining third-gen Outlander PHEV deliveries are eligible for a $2,500 iZEV rebate.

4. Hyundai Tucson Plug-In Hybrid: 1,011

Just how popular are electric cars at Hyundai? Combined, the plug-in Tucson and plug-in Santa Fe’s first-half deliveries of 1,677 units, according to Transport Canada, are about 33-per-cent fewer than the electric Hyundai Kona. Beyond that, the new Hyundai Ioniq 5 outperformed the Kona by roughly 45 per cent. These are early days for Hyundai’s PHEV program, however. The Tucson Plug-In Hybrid is now eligible for the $5,000 iZEV rebate.

driving by numbers: canada's 10 best-selling plug-in hybrids in 2022's first half, kinda sorta

Camping in Atikokan with the 2021 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle Hybrid Photo by Steven Bochenek

3. Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid: 1,332, up 170 per cent

In a sea of two-row PHEVs, the Chrysler Pacifica stands out for one very obvious reason. This is a three-row minivan with 51 kilometres of electric range when fully charged. With the $5,000 iZEV rebate in play, the Pacifica Touring-L Hybrid’s MSRP essentially falls to parity with the conventional Pacifica Touring.

2. Toyota Prius Prime: 1,395, down 39 per cent

From one of the most famous hybrid nameplates of all time comes this plug-in hybrid wearing Toyota’s Prime branding. The Prius Prime only receives the $2,500 federal iZEV rebate, unlike the RAV4 Prime’s $5,000 cut. Yet at a price $12,340 below the RAV4 Prime’s, the plug-in Prius is the fuel-miser’s ideal Toyota if overall value is in question. Toyota says the Prius Prime can be charged in little more than five hours on a standard household outlet.

driving by numbers: canada's 10 best-selling plug-in hybrids in 2022's first half, kinda sorta

1. Ford Escape Plug-In Hybrid: 1,643, up 82,050 per cent

The Mustang Mach-E, F-150 Lightning, and Maverick Hybrid operate in the limelight, but in the world of plug-in hybrids the Ford Escape generated more attention from Transport Canada’s iZEV rebate reps than any other vehicle in 2022’s first-half. The Escape PHEV receives the full $5,000, is rated at a 2.2 L/100 km equivalent, and is rated by Ford at 61 kilometres of EV range.

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