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Higher prices at the pump spark interest in electric cars

Gasoline prices are up 36 per cent annually, leading many to consider switching to electric vehicles
100318-electric car vehicle-charging station
(Meghan Groff/

Prices at the pump are up again this week in Nova Scotia, with the minimum price for gasoline at 179.8.

The news is even worse for those who have a vehicle running on diesel. Following two interrupter clauses earlier this week, and a third increase during the regular weekly adjustment, the price for diesel has now reached 236.3. Last Friday, the cost was 201.7.

Gas prices have increased by 36 per cent over the past year and it's clear fuel is the primary driver behind rising inflation in Nova Scotia. 

Nova Scotia Inflation March 2022

One thing is clear, the low gas prices of the COVID-19 lockdown are a thing of the past.

This may have some wondering if we're going to see more electric cars on the roads of Halifax.

"How it's going to affect sales, I think, is actually very little because the biggest bottleneck in buying an EV is the supply chain. The waiting lists are growing, if anything," said Kurt Sampson of the Electric Vehicle Association of Atlantic Canada.

"What is really making the difference in more EVs being sold, is more EVs being made by the manufacturers," he said.

But Peter Porteous, the vice president of business development at the Steele Auto Group, says they have seen significant surge in consumer interest.

"It really was an increase. We could see it in web traffic, we could see it in people coming to dealerships, and then, of course, we could see it in purchases as well," Porteous explained.

With the inevitable transition to electric vehicles coming, potential consumers may still fear the unfamiliar, such as car charging. But Porteous says most drivers won't have to worry about finding charging stations out in the wild.

"We know that about 90 per cent of charging actually happens at home. When we look at third-party maps, like Plugshare, or ChargePoint, the infrastructure for long-distance travelling is actually really quite good," Porteous said.

Infrastructure-related worries is one of three myths Porteous says revolve around electric vehicles. The second is range anxiety.

"The average electric vehicle today has about 450 kilometres range. That's a lot of ground covered. For that one trip or two trips that we make a year to another province, the infrastructure on those main highway systems exists," he said.

The third myth, according to Porteous, is cost.

"There's no comparison. It's a significant saving if you look beyond the initial purchase price," Porteous said.

Sampson is so convinced by the savings he has seen with his personal vehicles that he even suggests consumers switch to older electric cars.

"Even an old lower-range EV is a super good idea. It saves so much money on maintenance and fuel. My cost of fuel was already about 1/10 of what it would cost me. I think the gas prices will cause more people to look into those numbers," Sampson said.

Nova Scotia may not have as many electric vehicles as other provinces, but both experts agree the transition is coming quickly.

"B.C. has 13 per cent penetration already, Quebec is at 10 per cent penetration and growing, and the path to adoption is already well underway. As gas prices continue to ebb and flow, it may jolt people into action," Porteous suggested.

But Sampson cautions interested Nova Scotians might want to start looking soon due to the lack of supply.

"If gas prices went to five bucks later tomorrow, it's not going to put more EVs on the road. They're already being sold as fast as they hit the road. It's just going to cause more people to wish they had bought an EV earlier," he said.

Ryan Bellefontaine

About the Author: Ryan Bellefontaine

Aspiring data journalist, economic analyst and political commentator.
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