Electric cars sold in winter climate

The keys to Canada's first fully electric Mitsubishi car were handed over to a Winnipeg man on Thursday, at the start of winter.

Mitsubishi sells its first i-MiEV electric car in Canada to a Winnipeg man

Winnipeg man buys the first Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric car to be sold in Canada. 2:09

The keys to Canada's first fully electric Mitsubishi car were handed over to a Winnipeg man on Thursday, at the start of winter.

"We have the cleanest [hydroelectric] power in Canada, probably in the world," said Ross Redman, who picked up his new car at the Waverley Mitsubishi dealership.

The Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric car, shown in a Winnipeg dealership on Thursday, has no tail pipe, creates no emissions, and never needs oil to be added. (CBC)

"That's what I want to use for fuel in my car."

Redman, an electronics technician, said he originally purchased the i-MiEV — pronounced "eye-meeve" — for its high-torque performance, but now he is also motivated to save the environment.

"We have global warming problems," he said. "Polar bears for example, they can't get out on the sea ice because there is no sea ice."

"Somehow we have to slow down our production of carbon dioxide.  This is my contribution," he added, pointing to his new vehicle.

The four-passenger, sub-compact hatchback has no tailpipe and emits no greenhouse gases.

Fuel up for 80 cents

Redman said the cost of fuelling his new car is a mere 80 cents per fill at Manitoba Hydro rates.

In his garage, Redman said he expects to fully charge his electric car with a standard 110-volt plug in about 15 to 20 hours. If he upgrades to a 220-volt socket — similar to what a basement dryer uses — the car will charge in about seven hours.

Mitsubishi Motors Canada vice-president Kenji Itoh says the i-MiEV electric car has been winter-tested in Quebec. (CBC)

Mitsubishi Motors decided to launch its first Canadian sale of the i-MiEV in Winnipeg because Redman was so determined early on to get one.

"He spent $5,000 [on a] deposit four years ago to have the i-MiEV. So for us, [he's] a very important customer," said Kenji Itoh, vice-president of Mitsubishi Motors Canada, who flew in from Toronto on Thursday.

Itoh added that the i-MiEV is already fully winter-tested in Canada, in collaboration with Hydro Quebec.

But electric cars are in somewhat "unchartered waters" for new vehicle buyers, said Rino Attardo, the general manager at Waverley Mitsubishi.

'Range anxiety' amid cold weather

Many worry about so-called "range anxiety" — as in, "How far can I go on a single charge?"

Furthermore, the car's electrical battery drains faster in cold weather.

"The preferred temperature and climate would allow for about 150 kilometres of driving. And in extreme cold, it may be somewhere around a third of that," said Attardo.

But Redman said he is prepared to give the car a shot. He likes one of the car's winter advantages: instant electrical heat.

"It's instant on, whereas if I was driving my gas-powered car, I would have to be eight or 10 blocks down the road before I would get any heat at all," he said.

Redman said he also expects the overall maintenance costs of his electrical car to be lower than a typical gasoline-powered car because it never requires oil and has far fewer mechanical parts.

No cash incentive in Manitoba

The base model for the i-MiEV sells for $32,998, and the fully loaded version is $35,998.

Nissan has also recently begun selling its own electric car, the Leaf, in Manitoba.

A Mitsubishi news release says Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia have government cash incentives to reduce the purchase price of electric vehicles.

Subsidies for electric cars range from $5,000 to $8,231 off the sticker price.

However, there is no such incentive in Manitoba.

The Manitoba Electric Vehicle Association has a set goal for Manitoba to have 4,000 electric cars on the road by 2015 — a number of cars proportional to U.S. President Barack Obama's goal to see one million electric cars on the road in that country.

Natural Resources Canada says 37 per cent of Canada's emissions came from transportation in 2008.