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With gas nearing $2 a litre in Ontario, is it time to trade in for an electric vehicle?

March 14, 2022
3 mins
man standing in front of electric vehicle while it's charging and looking at his phone

There’s no question that today’s high gas prices have you reaching deep into your pockets. The need for crude oil and the short supply have pushed up prices at the pumps.

According to GasBuddy, an app that allows drivers to find the cheapest gas stations near them, the average price of regular gas at the time of this writing is currently ranging anywhere from $1.74 a litre in Saskatchewan to just $1.98 a litre in British Columbia.

Ontarians are seeing an average cost of $1.77 per litre to fill up their tanks.

Gas prices aren’t expected to fall any time soon, either, which leaves people asking: how long will these prices last? And could an electric vehicle (EV) or hybrid vehicle finally be worth the plunge?

Canadians’ interest in EVs is increasing

According to a recent KPMG poll, many Canadians are considering switching to EVs, “with as many as 71% saying they will consider an EV for their next purchase and half of all respondents saying their desire to buy an EV is greater today than it was a year ago.”

Currently, there are three categories of EVs available in Canada, which are all considered to be zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs):

  1. Battery-electric vehicles (BEVs)
  2. Hybrid-electric vehicles (HEVs), and
  3. Plug-in electric vehicles (PHEVs)

BEVs are powered solely by an electric battery, with no gas engine parts. HEVs are low-emission vehicles that use an electric motor to assist gas-powered engines as all the energy comes from gasoline. The PHEVs are similar to a hybrid, but with a larger battery and electric motor, plus they have a gas tank and a charging port.

EV rebates and incentives

If you consider the savings in fuel over the next few years, a fully electric vehicle can save you a lot of money in operational costs, as can a hybrid vehicle.

As far as EVs go, the federal government currently offers up to a $5,000 rebate on the purchase of an EV, and depending on the province, you may receive more.

For example, B.C. offers incentives of up to $3,000 for buying new EVs under $55,000, as well as a program where you can receive between $3,000 and $5,000 for trading in your gas vehicle for a new BEV.

Although Ontario’s government scrapped the provincial rebate program in 2018, another organization called Plug ‘N Drive will offer drivers up to $2,000 for scrapping a gas vehicle and purchasing a used EV. So, checking with your provincial government for electric vehicle rebates is in your best interest.

Is an electric vehicle worth the wait?

If you’re seriously interested in purchasing a new EV, you better be patient. As is the case with many new gas-powered vehicles, there is a waiting list to purchase them — mainly because of the shortage of certain electric parts. Many dealerships are not stocking up on EVs to begin with, and with the recent surge in consumer interest, demand has only increased.

However, some EVs may be more widely available than others, and still make a solid purchase. Be selective but knowledgeable on the EVs out in the market. And remember, used EVs are also an option.

As far as your auto insurance rate is concerned, premiums for EVs may only be slightly higher than that of gas-powered vehicles. The increase can be due to the cost of the batteries EVs and hybrid vehicles require.

But it’s not so much the energy source that drives the insurance cost up — it’s the cost of replacing the parts. However, many insurance providers offer a discount for driving an electric or hybrid vehicle. Add up that, along with the savings in operating costs and less vehicle maintenance, and the switch could outweigh the slight increase in your insurance premium.

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Scott Marshall

Scott Marshall has spent over 30 years promoting road safety across Canada. He has seen many things from inside the vehicle while training new drivers, retraining licensed drivers, and training new driving instructors. Scott began writing road safety articles in 2005 for a community newspaper and has moved on to more publications from there.

In 2005, Scott was an on-air judge on the Discovery Network's Canada's Worst Driver program for its first three seasons. That gave Scott insight with regards to what makes bad drivers so bad. He was also the host of The National Driving Test internet webisodes.

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