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Bhutan Mulls Turning All Taxis Into Nissan Leaf Electric Cars


2012 Nissan Leaf Taxi in Sao Paulo

2012 Nissan Leaf Taxi in Sao Paulo

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Several cities are considering using Nissan Leaf electric cars as taxis, but no place has yet replaced every single taxi with the battery-electric hatchback.

Soon, that may be the case in the small Asian nation of Bhutan, where Leafs could become more common (proportionally) than anywhere else in the world.

According to the Financial Times (via Indian Autos Blog), the Bhutanese government is considering replacing the country's entire fleet of taxis and government vehicles with Leaf plug-ins.

Bhutanese prime minister Tshering Tobgay has reportedly discussed the importation of electric cars and charging stations with Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn.

A handful of Leafs will replace some government vehicles in March, with more to follow.

An aggressive electric-car policy makes sense for Bhutan, because the country's main export is electricity from hydroelectric plants, which is sent to India.

Tobgay told the Financial Times that most of the money from electricity sales currently goes to importing fossil fuels for transportation; he hopes to reduce the country's oil imports by 70 percent.

2013 Nissan Leaf electric car tested as taxi in New York City, April 2013

2013 Nissan Leaf electric car tested as taxi in New York City, April 2013

Enlarge Photo
Bhutan's small size also makes it ideal for electric cars, because most journeys are relatively short.

Most residents of the capital city of Thimpu primarily rely on a fleet of roughly 3,500 taxis for transportation, making the electrification of the fleet more significant than in other countries where more vehicles are privately owned, the Bhutanese government believes.

Personal-car imports are currently banned, but legislation will be introduced to create an exemption for electric cars.

In addition to Nissan, the Bhutanese government has been in talks with other automakers, including Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA]. Tobgay hopes Thimpu will eventually become a center for electric-car research and development.

Nissan Leaf electric cars have already been introduced to taxi fleets in other world cities.

Leaf taxis already operate in Sao Paulo, Brazil and Osaka, Japan, although some Osaka cabbies are not happy with the battery-range degradation they've experienced after racking up tens of thousands of miles in a short period.

A handful of Leaf taxis are also prowling the streets of New York City.

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