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Owner of all-electric Nissan Leaf frustrated by difficulty of getting new battery

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You might think that Nissan, the first car-maker to achieve widespread success with a zero-emissions electric vehicle, cares deeply about the environment. But Clayton Brander isn’t so sure.

Three years ago, the Powell River, B.C., resident chose to buy a used 2013 Nissan Leaf, motivated by a keen interest in sustainability.

“I love the car,” he said. “Honestly, in three years and 40,000 kilometres, I’ve replaced a set of tires and windshield wiper fluid. Nothing breaks down. It’s a fantastic little vehicle. I think electric vehicles are the way to go.”

But nowadays, instead of being able to drive the 120 km that 2013 Leafs could initially go on a full charge, Brander can’t get much more than 80 km. He has even become hesitant about turning on the heat or window defroster, since using those features require battery power and will reduce his driving range even further.

Brander always knew that batteries lose capacity over time, and he figured it wouldn’t be a problem getting a new one.

“The dealership where I bought the car said that in a few years, you can replace the battery for about $5,000,” said Brander.

But now, he can’t find one. He’s tried two nearby Nissan dealerships, three local repair shops and contacted Nissan Canada.

“Nissan hasn’t been helpful. I’ve sent probably six emails to them,” said Brander. “They keep telling me to go to the dealership. I called my local dealership and they sent emails to Nissan Canada. Six weeks later, neither of us has gotten a response.”

Both dealerships told him that a new battery — if he can find one — could cost him at least $15,000, which would be more than he paid for the vehicle in the first place.

 

 

Clayton Brander of Powell River, B.C., assumed that buying a reliable electric vehicle was an environmentally sustainable decision. Three years later, he’s faced with the choice of buying an expensive replacement battery, if he can find one, or a new car. 2:10

His local dealership has encouraged him to solve the issue by simply purchasing a brand-new Nissan Leaf. The basic 2020 model costs $42,000 and can travel about 240 km on a full charge. That suggestion doesn’t seem very sustainable to Brander.

“It seems like these things are going to end up in the landfill,” he said. “It makes more sense for them financially, I imagine, to sell new cars than to service the old cars.”

U.S. class-action lawsuit

The Nissan Leaf has long been the world’s best-selling electric vehicle, surpassed for the first time in 2020 by Tesla’s Model S, according to Nissan and Tesla’s own figures.

Olivier Trescases, a professor at the University of Toronto’s Electric Vehicle Research Centre, said Nissan deserves credit for being a pioneer.

“They were one of the first to release a compelling electric vehicle with a reasonable range and most importantly, a low price point,” he said.

But he added that one of the design “compromises” Nissan initially made in order to keep production costs down was to not install an advanced cooling system for its batteries. “They were using a chemistry that was particularly temperature-sensitive, and they did not use expensive liquid cooling.”

 

Olivier Trescases works at the University of Toronto’s Electric Vehicle Research Centre, where students are working on a battery prototype that will get longer life and a greater driving range. (Dianne Buckner/CBC)

 

That means the battery’s capacity is reduced more quickly. In 2012, Leaf owners in California and Arizona launched a class-action lawsuit claiming the car’s driving range was lower than advertised.

The company settled the suit and extended the battery capacity warranty to five years on models made from 2013 onward. Later, Nissan extended the warranty to eight years on models made after 2016.

As well, a battery replacement program for first-generation Leafs was launched in the U.S. A new one cost $5,499 US, plus labour, but the program was discontinued in early 2018.

Where’s the loyalty?

After an inquiry about Clayton Brander’s situation from CBC’s Go Public team, Nissan declined an interview but released a statement via email. It said Nissan Canada will conduct an inspection of Brander’s vehicle and is “hopeful to find a resolution.”

Contacted by phone, the head of corporate communications for Nissan Canada wouldn’t clarify if that means that they would find him a new battery, or at what price.

The statement also pointed out the environmental impact of the Leaf, saying owners around the world have driven 4.8 billion kilometres and helped to prevent “more than 2.4 billion kilograms of CO2 emissions.”

Trescases believes Nissan should show more loyalty to its first customers. “Some of these early adopters helped them to get the car out on the market, get some acceptance and go from there.”

Nissan Canada says more than 3,300 Canadians have purchased Leafs built prior to 2015.

Trescases said the challenge of replacing batteries in older electric cars shouldn’t discourage buyers of newer models, explaining the latest EV batteries are incredibly efficient.

 

An electric vehicle charging station is pictured in Burnaby, B.C. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

 

“Today, companies are talking about million-mile batteries,” he said. “That’s a big buzzword, but let’s say they even get close to that — that means that the battery will actually outlive the car by a long stretch.”

Last year, Nissan began powering streetlights in Japan and a stadium in the Netherlands with batteries from cars no longer in use.

Keeping car on the road

At just seven years old, Brander’s Leaf is newer than most cars on the road in Canada, where the average vehicle is 10 years old. (In B.C., the average is 11.)

He remains determined to hang on to the vehicle, ideally with a new battery. He’s happy that Nissan Canada finally got in touch with him after the inquiry from CBC News, but he’s puzzled why the company says the vehicle needs to be tested. He said he already paid $130 for a battery test at a local dealership.

“The fact that I don’t get enough driving range out of this one is all that’s needed to determine that I need a new battery,” he said.

 

A newer-model Nissan Leaf is seen at an electric vehicle charging station in Burnaby, B.C. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

 

He’d like to see Nissan show some loyalty to its most faithful fans, by helping keep the cars on the road for as long as possible.

“They got all the kudos for introducing the electric vehicles to the masses, so that looks really good,” he said.

“But they’re losing them now by not supporting these older models and just pushing new vehicle sales, instead of saying, ‘Look, we can still keep these out of the landfill.'”

Source: – CBC.ca

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RBC tops forecasts as loan-loss provisions decline, costs fall – The Globe and Mail

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A person walks by the Royal Bank of Canada building in Toronto, on May 27, 2020.

Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

Royal Bank of Canada’s profit rose modestly in the fiscal fourth-quarter, as the bank set aside less money to cover potential loan losses and clamped down on costs.

The bank’s earnings were stronger than expected, bolstered in part by a surge in returns from capital markets. But as with two rival banks that also outperformed analysts’ expectations on Tuesday, a decline in provisions for credit losses – the money banks set aside to cover loans at risk of defaulting – was the driving force.

For the three months that ended Oct. 31, RBC earned $3.25-billion, or $2.23 per share, compared with $3.21-billion, or $2.18 a share, in the same period a year earlier.

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Adjusted for certain items, RBC said it earned $2.27 per share, well ahead of the consensus estimate of $2.05 per share among analysts, according to Refinitiv.

The bank kept its quarterly dividend unchanged at $1.08 per share, in keeping with restrictions imposed by regulators that temporarily prevent banks from raising payouts.

RBC’s 1-per-cent bump in earnings marked the first time its quarterly profit has risen, compared with a year earlier, since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. But the bank’s full-year profit of $11.44-billion was down 11 per cent – the first annual decline since the global financial crisis in 2009.

In the fourth quarter, RBC reported $427-million in provisions for credit losses, which was down 21 per cent from the same quarter last year, and 37 per cent from the previous quarter this year. It was also far shy of the $774-million analysts expected, according to Refinitiv.

Over the same span, the balance of loans with deferred payments – a measure of relief banks offered to clients struggling amid the pandemic – fell to $10.5-billion, from $62.8-billion as of July 31.

Quarterly revenue of $11.1-billion fell 2.4 per cent, but that decline was more than offset by a 4-per-cent drop in expenses, which were just shy of $6.1-billion.

Low interest rates compressed lending margins, which contributed to a 7-per-cent decline in profit from RBC’s retail banking division, to $1.5-billion.

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But profit from the bank’s capital markets division was up 44 per cent to $840-million.

“There is very little to complain about in [RBC’s] earnings,” said John Aiken, an analyst at Barclays Capital Canada Inc., in a note to clients.

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3 TSX Stocks to Buy in December for High Returns – The Motley Fool Canada

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This year has been a roller-coaster ride for investors, with the S&P/TSX Composite Index falling over 35% in March and recovering strongly to recoup most of its losses. The encouraging announcements on vaccine development supported the rally last month. Meanwhile, the rising COVID-19 cases and a slowdown in the economic recovery are a cause of concerns. Amid this uncertain outlook, here are three top TSX stocks to buy right now for superior gains.

Suncor Energy

Amid the hope of life returning to pre-pandemic ways, West Texas Intermediate (or WTI) crude oil rose above $45 per barrel. The increase in oil prices brought some relief to the energy sector, including Suncor Energy (TSX:SU)(NYSE:SU). The company’s stock rose 38.2% last month. However, it is still trading over 51% lower for this year.

Yesterday, Suncor Energy provided its management’s guidance on the production levels and capital expenditure for 2021. The management expects its overall average production to come in the range of 740,000 to 780,000 barrels per day, representing a 10% growth from the mid-point of last year’s guidance. Further, the company has taken several costing initiatives in the last few years. The management hopes these initiatives to reduce its operating and capital expenses significantly in 2021.

The management expects its downstream utilization rate to improve by 6% to 93%. With the oil demand expected to rise next year, I am bullish on Suncor Energy.

BlackBerry

Technology companies have witnessed a strong run this year amid the increased demands for their products and services due to digitization. However, BlackBerry (TSX:BB)(NYSE:BB) was under pressure due to its exposure to the automotive industry, which had witnessed a significant disruption amid the pandemic-infused shutdown. However, last month, the company’s stock rose close to 28% amid the vaccine hope.

In May, the company had launched its Spark Suite platform, which offers cybersecurity and endpoint management options to enterprises. The platform has helped the company acquire many blue-chip clients. It had also launched its Guard platform in the Managed Detect and Respond Services (MDR) segment in July, which could reach $2 billion by 2024 as per Frost & Sullivan’s projections.

Further, the company’s BTS (BlackBerry Technology Solutions) segment, which offers a broad portfolio of functional safety-certified and secure software for vehicles, showed improvement in the August ending quarter amid the resumption of production. Meanwhile, the management expects its BTS business to return to pre-pandemic levels early next year. Despite its healthy growth prospects, the company is trading at over 8% lower for this year, providing an excellent buying opportunity.

Nuvei

My third pick would an electronic payment-processing company, Nuvei (TSX:NVEI), which has returned over 75% since its IPO in September. It offers payment technology and intelligence services to around 50,000 customers operating across 200 markets with 150 currencies. The company has significant exposure to the iGaming and sports betting industries.

After getting the approval for sports betting in Colorado and Indiana, it recently received the authorization to operate in West Virginia. Currently, 17 U.S. states have legalized online sports betting, which several other states are working on the legalization of sports betting. So, the company has significant scope for expansion.

Further, Nuvei has developed proprietary platforms to support high-growth mobile and e-commerce markets, which could grow at around 13% annually for the next four years. So, given its high growth potential, the company could deliver multi-fold returns over the long run.


The Motley Fool recommends BlackBerry and BlackBerry. Fool contributor Rajiv Nanjapla has no position in any of the stocks mentioned.

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Trucks and SUVs with remote starters top most-stolen list, IBC says – CBC.ca

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Newer SUVs and trucks with remote starters top the list of the most often stolen vehicles in Canada, the Insurance Bureau of Canada said Wednesday.

The group that represents insurance companies across the country said theft from your own driveway using widely available electronic tools is on the rise across the country, as thieves respond to demand from high-end buyers overseas and street racers here at home.

The four-door 2018 Honda CRV with all-wheel drive holds the ignominious title of being the most stolen vehicle in Canada this year, with 350 thefts reported by insurers across the country — nearly one per day. When the 2017 and 2019 models are included in the tally, there were 758 stolen — that’s more than two per day.

Here’s the rest of the list:

There is wide variety across the country, too. In Alberta, all of the most-stolen vehicles are versions of pickup trucks: F150s and F350s from Ford, and Dodge Rams.

“These trucks are attractive to thieves, and oil and gas companies have used them almost exclusively, which has brought a disproportionately high amount of them to the province,” the IBC said.

In Ontario, however, the list is mostly high-end SUVs from Toyota, Honda and Lexus. Some of those get sold abroad, but many are chopped up for parts, the IBC said. 

Atlantic Canada had a mix of both, with popular sedans such as the Honda Accord and Chevrolet Cruz mixed in. The most stolen vehicle in Atlantic Canada was the Chevrolet Silverado, which is typically targeted for export by criminal groups.

Drivers often worry about something like their window being smashed and their car being stolen that way. But cheap and plentiful tech tools make it far easier to steal a car today. 

Bryan Gast, national director of investigative services at IBC, said in an interview with CBC News that the biggest trend he’s seeing this year is what’s known as a “relay attack.”

“That means they’re acquiring your signal from your key fob, cloning your key fob and [then] have the ability to start your vehicle without ever having the original key fob,” he said.

“It’s as simple as walking to your front door, seeing if they’re able to capture a signal of a key fob that might be inside. They don’t go anywhere in your house. They’re capturing it from the outside. And they have the ability to technologically clone the device and have the ability to start your car and drive off.”

New tech ‘makes it easy for the criminal’

The best tool to fight electronic theft, Gast says, is to not do what most people do — come into their house and leave their keys in a bowl or some other exposed place, just behind the front door. He recommends instead getting a metallic box for the car keys, one that blocks radio frequencies.

A suspect is seen using a radio frequency amplifier, which boosts the signal emitting from this vehicle’s fob located just inside the front door of the house. (Toronto Police Service)

“If you put it in a box, it doesn’t emit the radio frequency. Basically, it is in a protective box or a pouch and [criminals] don’t have the ability to capture that key fob signal.”

Cars manufactured since 2008 have mandated some sort of car-mobilizing technology built into them, and that has changed the trends in car theft ever since, Gast says.

“A lot of the time, as people leave the key fobs in their vehicle, that’s where they keep it. They make it easy to hop in, push the button to start and off they go. But it also makes it easy for the criminal, too.”

There’s another built-in vulnerability in something many drivers do as a precaution: when in a parking lot, they double-check their car is locked by hitting the key fob.

But a thief in the area with the right technology can clone the fob from that.

“You’re emitting that frequency, which can also be captured,” Gast said.

A lot of the most-stolen vehicles are higher-end, expensive and large cars that can be hard to acquire outside North America, which is why Gast says a big motivator for theft isn’t a criminal looking for a joy ride or to sell it locally. The thief often has a specific request for a specific vehicle and then sets about finding it.

Convenient technology is just making it easier, such that currently, a car is stolen somewhere in Canada every six minutes.

Theft on the rise in COVID

While COVID-19 has led to more cars being parked due to people working from home, it has also led to an increase in one type of car theft, Gast says. Namely, people looking for specific parts and vehicles to be used in street racing events and other reckless driving behaviour.

“The problem is stealing parts for some of these modified vehicles in the vehicles themselves,” he said. “Law enforcement definitely has their hands full.”

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