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Canada: West Islander is Spinelli Nissan’s first LEAF customer

Electric vehicles are slowly starting to gain acceptance and are becoming a more frequent sight on Montreal roads as consumers seek ways to reduce their carbon footprints on the planet.

Kate Coulter, an environmentalist and former city councillor in Beaconsfield, is such a consumer.

And that explains why, late in September, she was handed the keys to an all-electric Nissan LEAF by Spinelli Nissan, the first LEAF sold by the Pointe-Claire dealership.

“I have been an avid environmentalist for the past 25 years and have been involved politically as a city councillor, having started up various committees to improve our impact on the planet,” Coulter said. “So this is sort of part and parcel of my lifestyle choice.

“I have always wanted to reduce the emissions (I produce), so this is just another step.”

Coulter now works as a private social worker, meaning she uses the car every day to get around the West Island. With the LEAF having a range of up to 160 kilometres on a full charge, depending on driving habits and conditions, Coulter doesn’t experience any range anxiety and is able to complete her day with juice to spare.

But there is a little bit of planning involved to make sure she gets home before the last ounce of juice is expended.

“You have to be a little bit more diligent in the planning of where you want to go – and I have no problem with that,” Coulter said. “I know the night before where I am going, so I know where I am going in a day and how much power I am going to need to get there.”

She says she has been experimenting and getting to know the vehicle’s limits, with successful results so far. Maximizing the LEAF’s battery pack requires a change in driving habits for some.

“You don’t accelerate (quickly) off of stop signs or stop lights – which you are not supposed to do anyway with a gas car. But it’s more in your face (in the LEAF). You see the power bar going up as you are using more power. Whereas with a gas tank, you don’t see that instantly, you only see it at the gas station – if you even keep track of it.”

Coulter is keeping track, even using a spreadsheet on her iPhone to track how far she has driven, how much power she has used and what kind of driving – highway or city – she was doing.

Before deciding on the LEAF as her green vehicle of choice, Coulter says she test drove the Chevrolet Volt. She decided against it because of its lack of space and the fact that it was not a true electric vehicle since it uses a gasoline generator to provide electricity once the battery is depleted.

With no LEAFs in the Spinelli Nissan lot, Coulter went to test drive the LEAF through Communauto, which has a fleet of the electric vehicles.

Coulter says the purchase at Spinelli Nissan was a learning experience – for both parties.

More montgrealgazette.com

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