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Climbing gas prices has drivers considering electric cars

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) – Gas prices have gone up about $.34 a gallon in the past month and they’re only expected to get higher. It’s got many people looking at electric cars, but there are concerns.

With gas selling for $3.80 a gallon in Mid City, Barbara Lockly’s bank account has seen better days.

“[The prices] are obnoxious. I normally fill up my car at $15, now it’s $21,” said Lockly.

Lockly drives Uber and even though she owns a fuel-efficient car, she’s feeling the pain at the pump, and it’s only getting worse.

“We are bracing our AAA members to consider even higher prices. Talking about $4 a gallon in the Gulf Coast region,” said Don Redman, with AAA.

The recent hikes appear to be driven by uncertainty in the Russian oil market, coupled by a reduction in oil refining capacity.

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“Here in Louisiana, the past year I know we’ve lost two refineries that are not going to come back,” said Redman.

Louisiana still lags behind the rest of the nation in the purchase of electric cars and hybrid vehicles, which use both gas and electricity, and Betsy Weiss is glad she made the switch.

“I’m very happy I have it. Ehen I’m in the city I can rely on the electric charge and not on gas,” said Weiss.

But she can only go 20 miles between charges, which works well in the city, but for longer trips, she’s got a small fuel-efficient gas engine as a back up.

“I think there need to be more [charging] stations. If I can go on a road trip and easily find charging stations, I wouldn’t use gas at all. But at least I have the options,” said Weiss.

Though Louisiana is seeing more and more electric vehicles, the numbers pale in comparison to states like California and Texas. The alternative fuels data center says there are only 1,950 electric cars in Louisiana compared to 52,190 in Texas and 425,300 in California, where gas is more expensive.

“We already see a bunch of states on the West Coast at or above $4 [per gallon] so expect California to get to $5 pretty soon,” said Redman.

There are at least a dozen charging stations in the New Orleans area, but Weiss wishes there were more.

“I hope it’s an upward trend,” she said.

Meantime, Lockly says if the pain at the pump keeps creeping up, she may look for a new car.

“I never really thought about it, but if the gas keeps going up, I might have to switch to an electric car,” Lockly said.

AAA says many travelers may be taking shorter trips due to high gas prices. Drivers are advised to check tire pressure because poorly inflated tires can make your vehicle 30% less fuel-efficient.

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