It’s electric: Auto students check out new Nissan Leaf
January 24, 2012

Nissan Leaf

Neetika Sathe (left) from Nissan Canada shows Automotive Marketing student Brian Walsh (second from right) features of the LEAF electric vehicle at Georgian’s Canadian Automotive Institute.

Who better to learn from about the latest trends in electric vehicles than the manufacturer of the 2011 world car of the year and the province’s second largest municipally-owned utility?

Nissan Canada and PowerStream brought the Nissan LEAF, Nissan’s 100-per-cent, zero emission vehicle, to Georgian’s Barrie Campus for a discussion and demonstration on the evolution of the transportation and utility sectors.

Brian Bentz, President and CEO of PowerStream, told students from the Canadian Automotive Institute and School of Engineering Technology that the future offers endless possibilities for them.

“It is a transformational and exciting time in the energy sector. We need smart people to help us transform and Georgian students are the highest quality students we get,” said Bentz.

John Mulrooney, PowerStream’s Director of Smart Grid Technologies, said merging the latest communications technology and the power grid is transforming Ontario’s electricity distribution system, which was basically unchanged for the past 100 years.

Electrical vehicles represent the first time PowerStream has undertaken testing mobile loads of electric power. Smart meters will help with managing electricity demand to charge the cars through load-shifting efforts, such as transferring power from the car back to the grid during peak times.

PowerStream and Nissan Canada are working together to implement infrastructure that makes these vehicles convenient for the average Canadian. Level three chargers, with 480 volts, are not yet available in Canada, but when they are they will be able to charge up to 80 per cent of the LEAF’s battery in 30 minutes. A 220-volt outlet, like the ones used in homes for stoves and dryers, takes about seven hours to charge the battery.

Automotive Marketing student Brian Walsh came to hear from the panel how the state of the economy will play a role in the evolution of the electric vehicle in Canada.

“The more guest speakers we have from the industry the better. They really encourage us as students to get hands-on experience,” says Walsh.

Neetika Sathe, Senior Manager, Chief Marketing Management for Nissan LEAF, explained the car’s technological and environmental features to the audience. She highlighted features such as the ability to turn on the climate control remotely, and manage and monitor charging using the Telematics system called CARWINGS, the shape of the headlamps which deflects air flow around the side mirrors making for a quieter drive, and the seats that are made from recycled plastic water bottles.

Students had the opportunity to see the LEAF first hand and ask questions of Nissan Canada and PowerStream representatives.