New Brunswick’s Progressive Conservative government recently bought 10 Teslas for cabinet ministers and MLAs at a cost of $82,000 each.Charlie Deets/ Unsplash

A charged debate in New Brunswick’s legislature has finally yielded some answers on how much Tesla electric vehicles have cost taxpayers.

Brunswick News has learned that the Progressive Conservative government has recently added 10 used Teslas to its fleet at a cost of $82,000 each.

And more could also be on the way, as the government has signaled its intention to eventually outfit all cabinet ministers.

Last week in question period, Liberal Opposition Leader Susan Holt picked up on a Brunswick News story from earlier this month that explained why Government House Leader Glen Savoie had driven a government-issued Tesla oustide of the province to Halifax to repair a cracked windshield.

“Many of us were surprised last week to learn that a minister is driving a government-owned Tesla around the province and beyond,” Holt said, adding that other EVs could be bought at half the price of a Tesla and serviced by New Brunswick dealers.

“I’m hoping you can tell the House this: How many government-owned Teslas are currently in use? What led to the decision to allow ministers to drive these luxury vehicles, especially considering the higher cost compared to other electric vehicles?” 

Savoie blew a fuse, raising his voice in response.

“This is an example of politics at its worst! We’ve got an opposition that is chasing the CBC or whatever other media suits its fancy to try to create a smear campaign!” 

Savoie, who’s also environment and local government minister and minister responsible for la Francophonie, said the Liberals liked to follow their “lord and saviour” Prime Minster Justin Trudeau “and say, ‘We’re going to make all kinds of policies that are going to make the world better.’Well, all they’re doing is taking money out of people’s pockets. What we, as a government, are doing is instituting the use of electric vehicles to do our part to try to make the environment better.”

However, the veteran politician from Saint John East did not shed any light on how many had been purchased. 

He said he’d been asked by the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure, also called DTI, to be “part of a program that it wants to roll out to ministers and eventually to MLAs so that we can electrify our fleet. I was not privy to the details as to why a Tesla, in particular, was chosen. My understanding is that DTI got it at a lower price point.”

In a follow up question, Transportation Minister Richard Ames didn’t divulge anything about costs, other than to say his department was doing its part to help the environment.

“We are going to follow through on the Climate Change Action Plan,” Ames told the House. “I don’t know what else to say. We are electrifying our fleet. School buses are in the mix as well. They are used throughout the province. Ministers use electric cars. It is time to get into 2024.”

Brunswick News asked the department how many of the Teslas had been purchased, at what cost and why.

Spokesman Jason Hoyt replied that his department took its commitment to fighting climate change seriously and “greening” the government’s fleet, by slowly electrifying it, was part of a commitment under the province’s Climate Change Action Plan.

The fleet now has 11 Teslas, four 4 Chev Bolts, and one Ford Lightning, all fully electric. It also has seven Chev Volt and four Ford Escape plug-in hybrids, besides 22 electric school buses.

He said the 10 most recently purchased Teslas were all used vehicles from an off-lot tender. The 10 vehicles came at a price of about $820,000.

“Not only do they save on fuel costs but have much lower maintenance over the life of the vehicle,” Hoyt wrote in an email.

By John Chilibeck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on May 23, 2024 at 12:23

This item reprinted with permission from   The Daily Gleaner   Fredericton, New Brunswick

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