I noticed the news item “Fully electric car makes debut in Canada” (see below) about the arrival in Canada of the Nissan Leaf — a fully electric car (not a hybrid) that runs up to 160 km in one go. The basic car costs about $38,000 (Ontario residents may qualify for an $8,000 rebate). I view this as a very positive story and wish to share it with readers, but I must note a couple of things. First off, these stories rarely mention how much it will cost the owner typically to recharge the battery; just because it doesn’t require gasoline doesn’t mean that fuelling is free. It would be very interesting to know the cost at today’s power rates. Second, I’d like to know how long it takes to recharge the battery. I mean, if I run out of gas with my current car, I can refuel in only a few minutes. If a full electrical charge on the Leaf requires that it be plugged in overnight, I need to know that. Third, I wouldn’t buy one until I see independent assessments of the car’s operational success in a Canadian winter; sub-zero temperatures could potentially reduce the driving distance for this car immensely. And how does it fare in stop-and-go traffic? Next I would like to know where I can power up the car away from home. And lastly, if this also about saving the environment and getting off of fossil fuels, I’d like to see a lifecycle assessment that takes into consideration how the electricity is produced (hydro, nuclear, coal?). If the power ultimately comes from burning coal from strip-mine operations in which the tops are blown of Pennsylvanian mountains, we may be no further ahead.
For the time being this car seems to be a great city option, and perhaps could be incorporated into some kind of “Green Zip” fleet for people who want short-term occasional use of a car, and who wish to save on fuel and drive inside the city, and be environmentally conscious. But in the end, like so many environmental issues, the matter is more complicated than it seems at first blush.
Fully electric car makes debut in Canada
CBC – Fri, 23 Sep, 2011
On Friday Ottawa man Ricardo Borba became the first Canadian to drive off with one of the 2011 Nissan Leafs.
Unlike hybrid electric vehicles like the Chevrolet Volt — which arrived at Canadian dealerships a month ago — the Leaf is run entirely from its electric battery, which can allow the vehicle to travel up to 160 kilometres before it must be recharged.
Borba, a software engineer at IBM said he’s been fascinated with green technology and is fed up with the fuel industry.
“Right at the time there was an oil spill in the gulf of Mexico,” Borba said of the discussions he had with his wife. “So we decided maybe there’s another way to do what we need to do that doesn’t go deep into the ocean to get the oil, transport the oil, refine the oil.”
Since 2010 about 10,000 of the vehicles have been sold worldwide, but in Canada only 40 were sold of the 2011 model.
The company expects to sell 600 cars of the 2012 model. By then, the electric car market will also include other vehicles like the Mitsubishi i-MiEV.
Allen Childs, President of Nissan Canada, said it has taken 18 year of technological development to bring the car to market. “It’s exciting for Canadians as well, they have a choice now,” said Childs.
“To have a car pass by the gas station, say no to fossil fuels and have no tailpipe on the back of their car… It’s fantastic,” he said.
The Leaf is not cheap — the basic model starts at just over $38,000, though Borba said he is eligible for an $8,000 tax rebate in Ontario because it is a green car.
Borba had a charging station installed in his garage. It takes about seven hours to fully recharge.
The infrastructure to power the car elsewhere is currently lacking in Ontario, and unlike hybrids the Leaf lacks a combustion-engine to back-up the battery, so Borba knows he won’t be taking the vehicle on long-distance trips anytime soon.
“I’ve very excited and proud to be part of it,” said Borba