Fully electric car makes debut in Canada

The first mass-produced, zero-emissions car to be sold in Canada has arrived at dealerships this week.
An Ottawa man drove off with a 2011 Nissan Leaf, one of 40 of the vehicles to sell in Canada. (Ashley Burke/CBC)

The first mass-produced, zero-emissions car to be sold in Canada arrived at dealerships this week.

On Friday Ottawa man Ricardo Borba became the first Canadian to drive off with one of the 2011 Nissan Leafs.

Unlike electric vehicles with gasoline-engine backups 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 years 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'm very excited and proud to be part of it," said Borba.