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Laid-off Calgary oilpatch engineer opens used electric car dealership

WATCH: It’s a tough choice so many Albertans are facing these days: laid off from the energy industry, wondering what comes next. For one Calgary man, it means a real career change, down a new path away from oil and gas. Gil Tucker reports.

Since he was a boy, Jim Steil has always enjoyed working with his hands and making things.

Now the talents he’s picked up are leading him in a new career direction, away from oil and gas toward more reliance on electric power.

“I’ve been a tinkerer my whole life,” Steil said. “When I was 15 years old I had my own little business in the garage and we were fixing bicycles.”

After going on to study engineering, Steil decided to become a high school teacher — a job that led to a lot of international adventures.

“For 10 years I travelled around the world,” Steil said. “I taught in school in Australia, Hawaii, England, Ireland.”

READ MORE: Calgary filmmaker’s story of layoffs in energy industry hits close to home

Returning to Calgary, he spent 15 years in the energy industry.

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“I drilled about 300 oil wells all over Alberta, Saskatchewan and B.C.,” Steil said. “And then one day I got laid off, so I decided to start a business.”

It’s led to him opening Alberta’s first used electric car dealership, GoElectric, in southwest Calgary.

“We are the only guys between Vancouver and Nova Scotia… actually doing this,” Steil said.

Setting out to build up his fleet of vehicles, he discovered that importing used ones from California makes the most business sense.

“Down there, bless their hearts, they have a $10,000 USD incentive on electric cars,” Steil said. “So that drops the price on used electric cars also down about $10,000 USD — like a lot of money.”

READ MORE: The latest and best electric cars you can buy right now

GoElectric also converts clients’ conventional vehicles to electric and hopes to soon be helping others complete do-it-yourself conversion projects.

“We’re going to set up a workshop,” Steil said. “So that people can covert their own cars and turn them into electric cars.”

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