The Nissan Leaf electric car has become part of a novel tourism promotion in its home market of Japan.

A car-sharing service is being set up in rural Japan to help tourists better explore the onsen--hot springs--and other natural features.

The near-silent electric cars are seen as an appropriate complement to the serene natural setting, as well as a useful tool for helping visitors experience an area roughly the size of metropolitan Tokyo.

RELATED: Nissan's Twizy Urban Electric Car Tour's Japan's Vacation Spots (Aug 2013)

As explained in a Nissan-produced video, one onsen even generates its own electricity to power the cars.

Those managing the facility claim its temperature can reach 98 degrees Celsius (208 degrees Fahrenheit)--enough to be useful for electricity generation.

The move comes as the Japan Travel Bureau looks to expand the number of public charging stations in the country.

Japanese onsen

Japanese onsen

The agency plans to install 1,622 new charging stations by the end of August, many of them located near JR Rail stations.

That allows tourists to travel out of major cities on Japan's famous high-speed "bullet trains," then switch to an electric car.

This provides greater flexibility in rural areas, where there may be limited access to alternative forms of transportation.

ALSO SEE: Toyota, Honda, Nissan Set Details Of Hydrogen Network In Japan

Nissan apparently sees a future for electric cars as temporary tourist transportation.

Beginning in 2013, it deployed its New Mobility Concept--a re-badged two-seat Renault Twizy low-speed electric car--on the Japanese island of Teshima.

The cars were made available to rent for a day's worth of driving around the island, which is only 11 miles in circumference.

2015 Nissan Leaf

2015 Nissan Leaf

Car sharing is pitched by advocates as a possible way to reduce transportation-related emissions, through cutting the overall number of cars on the road.

In the U.S., services like Zipcar and the Daimler-operated Car2go are proving popular in urban areas.

As of October 2014, one in five Americans had tried car sharing, according to WardsAuto columnist John McElroy.

MORE: Car Sharing Awareness Grows: 1 In 5 Americans Has Used It Now (Oct 2014)

Car sharing can also provide a good vehicle (pun intended) for getting people to try electric cars.

It gives consumers the opportunity to experience an electric car, without having to make the commitment of buying one.

Several operations--including BMW's DriveNow and the BlueIndy service in Indianapolis--have been set up specifically around electric cars.


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