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Record Vancouver gasoline price sparks interest in electric cars

Vancouver gasoline prices tied an all-time record $1.51 per Litre, prompting many to kick the tires on electric cars

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Stealing the show though were the Teslas.  The sign-up sheet for free test drives had a huge waiting list, frustrating some.

The California automaker innovated the world's first electric roadster a few years ago, and now makes sedans.  By 2017, Tesla will sell an economy car priced between $35,000 - $45,000, said a local dealer.

Horatio Kemeny rolled out his shiny Tesla roadster to the delight of many (including this reporter) who took photos of themselves inside it.  The ultra-fast sex-machine cost $120,000 in 2010.  Sitting in it feels like the cockpit of a jet fighter.

“And it drives like one too!  Zero to 100 in 3.7 seconds,” laughed Kemeny.

He boasted about the car's acceleration in "g forces" and guilty remarks about "smoking" much pricier race cars.

“That kind of torque is comparable to a half-million dollar Porsche or a motorcycle,” smiled Kemeny.

Teslas at BCEA VEVA electric vehicle show 2014 - Mychaylo Prystupa

The reason for the incredible acceleration is torque.  All electric engines have huge amounts of it.  Think about what happens when you turn on a drill.  Instant power.  

Electric vehicles have the same instant linear acceleration, whereas gas cars need to "rev up" before becoming fast.

The electric vehicle showcase was put on by the BC Sustainable Energy Association (BCSEA) and the Vancouver Electric Vehicle Association (VEVA).

Mass adoption of electric cars is expected.  BC Hydro forecasts 300,000 EVs on the road by 2030.

The electricity load that this creates is surprisingly minimal, say power engineers.  The main concern though is modernizing the grid, so residential transformers don't blow up when several EV owners on a street simultaneously plug-in.

The range of an EV is impaired by the effects of cold weather on the battery.  One test found that an EV's range can be reduced by half in extreme -30C cold.  Driving aggressively also drains the battery faster. 

City of Surrey Electric Vehicle Nissan Leaf - Mychaylo Prystupa

City of Surrey's Nissan Leaf electric car on display at VEVA/BCEA EV show - Mychaylo Prystupa

Commercial fleets are increasingly diving into electric cars, vans and trucks.  YVR, City of Surrey, Metro Vancouver are all buying EVs in large numbers.

Mark Taylor is a Sustainable Business Leadership researcher at BCIT, and said the fleets get the rest of us more comfortable about buying an electric car:

“It’s very important – because it proves the case study for electric vehicles.  Because generally fleets adopt these vehicles in large numbers, and the general population sees this, and follows suit," said Taylor.

Mark Taylor - Sustainable Business researcher

Marc Taylor - Sustainable Business researcher


Gasoline prices today

Gas price analyst Patrick DeHaan with said today's record-tying price of $1.51 / litre in Vancouver is mainly due to the declining value of the Canadian loonie.  High pump prices are seen country-wide.

  • Vancouver average: $1.51/L
  • British Columbia average: $1.44/L
  • National average: $1.38/L 

Officially, Vancouver came within less than a tenth of a cent of beating the all-time record, Friday afternoon.

Correction: story initially said SMART electric car was $14,000 -- that's the gas version.  The electric version starts at $26,900 according to a local dealer.

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