The District of North Vancouver has added 17 new Nissan Leaf electric vehicles to its fleet.
According to fleetcarma.com the Leaf is one of the top two electric cars in Canada during 2018, a year that has seen EV purchases leap by more than 150 per cent.
Reducing carbon emissions was important to the District, but this purchase is about more than just jumping on the green bandwagon.
District Energy Manager Monica Samuda worked with fleet managers on the business case for moving to electric cars. They looked at five brands of vehicles and when the numbers were crunched, reduced maintenance costs and the reduction in green house gas emissions both made the move to EV sensible.
The Leafs will will be divided between cars assigned specifically to Engineering, and to a group of pool cars available to be signed out by any employee who needs one.
Although employees still use personal vehicles in some circumstances, one of Samuda’s goals moving forward is to see the Leaf become the first choice wherever possible.
The cars arrived in October, so employees are still getting used to them. A row of new chargers has been installed on the west side of the District hall, and staff who will use the cars are undergoing a one hour training session to make them familiar with the Leaf’s unique features.
Project Engineer Jordan Wendelin was one of the early adopters when the Leafs arrived. He describes the vehicle as “actually kind of ideal for the District.”
Features like lane assist, collision prevention, and pedestrian detection make driving much safer he says, and “You would have a hard time rear-ending someone with this car.” Worries about battery range disappeared when “We actually didn’t charge it for a week, and could only get it down to something like 18 or 20 per cent.”
Wendelin is a fan of the “E-pedal” that engages regenerative brakes to recharge the battery when he takes his foot off the accelerator. Wendelin likes having the car brake automatically, and believes that it makes you drive much more smoothly but admits that some drivers choose to turn that off so that they can continue to use the regular brake pedal.
One of the selling points for electric vehicles is the reduced cost of maintenance.
Less moving parts means less money spent to keep them running. District mechanics are being certified to maintain the electric vehicles, and the District is watching the market as EV technology becomes available for other vehicles in their fleet.
District spokesperson Mairi Wegman says “As we look at replacing our gas vehicles towards end of life, we will look at buying electric to replace because in BC electric truly is low to no emissions. It just depends on what is available in the marketplace.”