MIKE KING, The Montreal Gazette Published: Friday, April 14, 2006
Automobile manufacturing is about to return to the lower Laurentians, switching from the production of gas-guzzling muscle cars four years ago to environmentally friendly electric vehicles.
But don't expect to see any of the battery-powered Zenn minicars on Quebec streets - or elsewhere in Canada - any time soon.
Although the Zenn (Zero Emission No Noise) meets all federal highway regulations, British Columbia is the only province so far where the vehicle can be legally licensed.
The Zenn is a tiny two-seater similar to the popular Smart Car.
Feel Good Cars Corp. of Toronto has leased 40,000 square feet of extra space in the Bauer Nike Hockey Inc. skate and helmet plant in St. Jerome, 60 kilometres north of Montreal, to serve as the primary production and research and development facility for the Zenn.
"It'll take about a month to get things outfitted and ready to go," company chief executive Ian Clifford told The Gazette by phone. "We chose St. Jerome because ITAQ is there."
It was at ITAQ, the Quebec Advanced Transportation Institute, that the Zenn prototype was created. ITAQ is a government-funded agency that is intended to be a catalyst for the development of sustainable transportation technologies. Clifford said his firm paid ITAQ "close to six figures" for its consulting and engineering services.