As the price of gas in Victoria soared above the $1.60/litre mark on Tuesday, experts say drivers should expect more of the same this summer.
A number of factors have been causing prices to rise across the board, including increased demand, crude oil becoming more expensive, pipeline capacity issues and a lower number of rigs in operation, according to Kent Fellows, an economist at the University of Calgary.
“I think we’re in for a summer probably of high gas prices because of this,” said Fellows. “We’re probably roughly in this range until the fall, when we’ll see that seasonality come into play.”
Another issue that could drive up gas prices this summer is relaxed COVID-19 travel restrictions.
While international travel is still out of the question for many, short-term trips will likely pick back up, placing an increased demand on the gas supply.
“Could this get worse? Decidedly, we’re at the beginning of the demand side of this push and that’s all about you and I putting gasoline in tanks because we want to travel,” said Lindsay Meredith, professor emeritus for Simon Fraser University’s Beaddie School of Business.
The only factor that might have a long-term impact, said Meredith, would be a mass switch to electric cars or bicycles — something he said is unlikely to happen.
“Not unless we all get mad and decide to park the cars at the curb and you know what, that’s not going to happen my friend.”
But increasing gas price spikes like this one could push more people toward electric options, and that’s exactly what a team of researchers at the University of Victoria and the University of British Columbia are working on.
They’re currently studying a new battery they say is not only safer, but could double the distance you could travel in one charge.
“If we make the technology more accessible to more consumers and adoption rates increase overall, we’re going to save British Columbians money,” said Bentley Allan with the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions at UVic.
The new batteries would use materials that are waste products instead of standard lithium-ion batteries that are more flammable, making them safer in the event of a crash.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that electric vehicles are the wave of the future,” said Allan. “B.C. has the highest rates of zero-emission vehicles adoption in North America, but that’s still only 50-60,000 people, so we really need to sell a lot more electric vehicles.”
The new technology is years away from making it into the mainstream, so for now, prepare to pay more at the pump until demand dies down.