Nova Scotia

High gas prices driving more Nova Scotians toward electric vehicles

Car dealerships in Halifax say the fluctuating price of gas is driving an unprecedented consumer interest in electric vehicles.

Electric vehicle seller says increase in interest has been 'dramatic'

Tomek Obirek stands in front of his electric vehicle. He said he will never buy a gas-powered car again. (Robert Guertin/CBC)

More Nova Scotians are looking for a way out from their gas-powered vehicles amid high, volatile gas prices.

Car dealerships that sell electric vehicles say sales have been rising for the past six months, but have exploded in the past few weeks. 

"There's been a dramatic increase in interest from the general public," said Jérémie Bernardin, business development manager at All EV Canada's Halifax location. "Of course, fuel ... prices skyrocketing is giving a lot more attention to, 'Hey, what does it actually cost to power my car and are electric vehicles that much cheaper?'"

Running an electric vehicle really is that much cheaper, according to Bernardin, who pointed to a Consumer Reports finding.

"Over the lifetime of the vehicle, you can expect 50 per cent savings when compared to an equivalent gas car," he said.

Jérémie Bernardin said All EV's Halifax location has the largest electric vehicle inventory in Canada. (Steve Lawrence/CBC)

Tomek Obirek recently bought an electric Mini Cooper, and is in the market for a second electric vehicle for his family.

"Honestly, gas is the biggest factor because with the prices of gas and them going up, it makes it almost unaffordable to drive a car these days," Obirek said. "My wife has a van and it's costing her about $135 to fill up weekly."

Lower maintenance costs

Obirek said his electric vehicle only requires maintenance once per year, and expenses like oil changes are non-existent. He said putting a full charge of electricity in the vehicle costs around $6. 

"As much as people say that these [electric] cars are expensive ... they're really not that expensive when you start factoring in maintenance and gas," he said.

Bernardin said although the gradual savings are evident, many people associate electric vehicles with a high outright cost. But he said would-be buyers don't need to be in the Tesla price range.

"I'd say that the higher-end products do sell, but ... our highest-volume ones are for everyday people that are just looking for a car that they can take on road trips, they can fit the family in and they can rely on," he said, referring to models like the Chevrolet Bolt, Nissan Leaf, and Hyundai Ioniq, which fall in the $26,000 to $32,000 range.

Robert Conrad of Griffin Motors said his dealership sells used electric vehicles that cost from $30,000 to upwards of $100,000. (Robert Short/CBC)

Robert Conrad said he is seeing the same increase in interest in electric vehicles at Griffin Motors, his family-owned used car dealership in Halifax.

"Just overall, there's a much larger push to EV right now," Conrad said. "People with big trucks, big SUVs or people with fuel-sipping smaller cars are still still switching. The savings are still there."

A charger is seen plugged into a blue electric car
At All EV's Halifax location, Teslas are popular but the bestsellers are vehicles in a lower price range. (Steve Lawrence/CBC)

Conrad said his dealership does have a wait list for used electric cars, and he has heard of wait lists at other dealerships as popularity grows amid global supply chain issues.

But he said his customers are usually set on buying electric.

"Overall, people are looking to be more sustainable," he said. "I mean, infrastructure in Nova Scotia wasn't really there for the past couple of years, and I think we're starting to catch up now. So that's why people are starting to make that push."