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B.C.’s rising gas prices push drivers towards electric cars

B.C. drivers won't be getting relief from gas price pain any time soon -- not from government holding firm on keeping provincial taxes as is, nor for those ready to make the move to electric vehicles. Liza Yuzda reports.

As gas prices continue to skyrocket, some B.C. car owners are looking for less expensive alternatives.

Blair Qualey, president and CEO of the New Car Dealers Association of B.C. says the demand for electric and hybrid vehicles has already grown.

“I’ve had a lot of people reach out to me saying, where can I find an electric vehicle? Gas prices are killing me. So, electric vehicles have been very popular already. We’ve had a very strong past two years. and add the gas price to it — I think you’ll see a lot more people having that conversation around the dinner table about their next car.”

B.C. drivers have seen prices go as high as $2.099 per litre of regular in recent days. And skyrocketing prices are being seen on both sides of the border, with gas surpassing $4 per gallon recently in the U.S.

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Although some recommend using public transit, biking, or ride-sharing as an alternative to driving, some people need vehicles to commute. Qualey says considering an electric or hybrid vehicle may seem like a pricey undertaking however, in the long run it will end up costing drivers less.

“Government has, fortunately, been listening around rebates both for the electric vehicles and for charging infrastructure. Whilst there’s a difference between gas and electric vehicles, because it’s new technology, it’s important to have something to bridge the gap and help people put their toe in the water.”

According to the government’s Clean BC plan, 26 per cent of all passenger vehicles sold by 2026 should be zero-emission. But Qualey says until there is sufficient charging infrastructure for electric vehicles, there is not enough incentive for people to match the province’s strict target.

“You can set whatever targets you want for the sale of vehicles, but if people don’t want to buy them targets don’t really matter.”

In addition to international pressures on supply, Metro Vancouver drivers are also hit with additional taxes that push prices higher.

In this region, drivers pay 73 cents per litre to the province, which includes an 18.5 cent TransLink tax. It also factors in a 10 cent per litre in carbon tax which, in April, will go up to 11 cents.

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