Electric cars are taking centre stage at the Montreal International Auto Show, thanks in part to the Quebec government's efforts to get them in the hands of consumers. 

The Quebec Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources, along with CAA-Quebec, is organizing test drives of 13 different models on a 3.1-kilometre circuit at the Palais des congrès.

The province contributed $85,000 for these test drives, on top of other programs like tax incentives, to make electric cars more attractive.

And on Thursday, Hydro-Québec announced a per-hour rate to the charging stations it has installed across the province:

  • Regular charge: $2.50 for a full charge or $1 per hour depending on the station

  • Fast charge: $10 per hour

The government says it's working, and more people are buying electric vehicles despite their higher price tags — at least $10,000 more than internal combustion cars.

tesla electric car

The Tesla Model S, a high-end electric car, sells for $100,000. (CBC)

"Now we're up to 8,400 EVs in Quebec and this is about half the EVs throughout Canada," said France Lampron, director of transportation electrification at Hydro-Québec.

However, with falling gas prices, the financial incentive to go electric isn't what it once was.

"I think we see the greater effect when gas prices are very high," said Marc Belcourt, a representative for BMW at the Auto Show.

"Then people start realizing every single week how much they're spending on fuel and then start to look for ways on how they can reduce their fuel expenditure."

The auto show will run until Jan. 24.