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Higher gas prices fuel increase in electric vehicle sales

As gas prices continue to see an increase, some drivers are finding a new way to avoid paying the extra money at the gas station.

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — As prices continue to climb at countless gas stations, many people are now deciding to head to electric car dealerships.

That increase in foot traffic is having a direct impact on Collin Riggin, who is the founder and partner of Evolve Auto in North Little Rock. 

"Everybody is feeling the pain at the pump," Riggin said.

As fuel costs rise, so are the number of people ditching the gas pump for an electric vehicle.

"I would say our leads have probably increased at least 200 to 300% this week," Riggins said.

A lead usually consists of a person that expresses interest in buying a car, for example.

Evolve Auto is in a unique position as it's the only dealership in the south that exclusively sells electric vehicles, particularly Teslas.

"Right now, we're on par to do about 200% of last year's sales for month to month," he said.

Between the pandemic and Russia's invasion of Ukraine, fuel prices are spiking as a result.

Riggins believes that's why more drivers are considering a different option.

"90% of those leads are trying to trade in a large vehicle or are interested in buying a second vehicle so they don't have to buy their large vehicle or drive their large vehicle," he said.

Riggins added that while he appreciates the increase in sales, he wishes it would happen under better circumstances.

"I hate it that it means that the overall economy is struggling. Of course, it's good for business for us, but obviously I want the economy to do well," he said.

Now as Arkansas looks to build its EV charging infrastructure, he's hopeful more people will consider this as an alternative to escape from those sky-high gas costs.

"If you've got a daily commute and right now fuel prices are hurting you, then you'll save a lot of money by these," Riggins said.

Even before the gas price hike, he said business for him was already steady, which is something he believes will continue to happen as fuel prices decline.

Right now, Arkansas drivers pay a 42.9 cents motor fuel tax while leaders in other states are calling on congress to suspend the federal gas tax to add some relief. 

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