​Calgary's oil executives are watching the growth of the electric car industry closely.

It was one of the main focuses of the ARC Energy Investment Forum in Calgary on Monday, where major players in oil and gas gathered.

"If we start to see more electric cars that could really change the outlook for oil demand and we really want to understand different perspectives on that issue," said Jackie Forest, director of research with the ARC Energy Research Institute.

Energy materials expert Dr. Linda Nazar said batteries have come a long way in the past few years, and the technology for electric cars is always improving. 

"Many people wouldn't have considered an electric car three or four years ago and now they are because the cars have the range and the cycle life," said Nazar, who works at the University of Waterloo.

"It's really more a question of the infrastructure at this point."

Tesla Charging Fort Macleod

A Tesla electric car charging station in Fort Macleod, Alta. (Robson Fletcher/CBC)

Forrest said the oil industry needs to understand the implications of an electric car boom.

"Not just [by] talking to people in the oil industry, but talking to people in the automotive industry, people who are in the job of understanding consumer trends in automotives and really understanding their perspectives to make sure we're fully aware in what direction some of these alternatives to oil could go in terms of transport," she said.

She added that only in one in 100 cars sold today is electric but sales are up 60 per cent year on year. 

But the biggest barrier, of course, is still the price — base models of Ford and Nissan electric cars start in the low $30,000s, while a Tesla Model 3 starts at more than $47,000.

With files from the CBC's Dan McGarvey