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Nissan's plan to get an entire country to drive electric cars

Posting in Transportation
 
nissan-leaf-bhutan-press.jpg
 
Bhutan is the small mountain nation known for its gross national happiness concept, an alternative to gross national product. But last fall the country's newly elected Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay told The New York Times: "Rather than talking about happiness, we want to work on reducing the obstacles to happiness."

Apparently, that includes a bunch of electric cars. 

The country already said it wants to be an electric car hotspot. All of its government vehicles are being switched to Nissan Leafs. And the country also wants its taxis fleet and personal vehicles to make the switch to electric. 

Now Bhutan has announced a partnership with Nissan to further that commitment. 

For Bhutan, the partnership will mean access to Nissan's EV knowledge to help electrify its fleet and develop its charging infrastructure. All of which will help Bhutan reach its goal of being a "zero-emissions" vehicle nation at some point. Bhutan is already considered a carbon neutral country, with its forest capturing "significantly more carbon than Bhutan emitted in all other sectors."

The benefit for Nissan is that Bhutan could be a showcase for building up electric vehicle infrastructure. The other advantage, as Clean Technica points out, is that Nissan can capture a large share of the electric vehicle market in the country. The taxi fleet deal alone will be the equivalent of 3.5 percent of Nissan's total, global EV sales. Global sales of the Leaf reached 100,000 earlier this year.

Of course, for electric cars to really make an environmental difference, as Bhutan hopes they will, the electricity the cars use must come from sustainable sources. But when it comes to electricity, Bhutan is a unique case. It only uses five percent of the clean electricity it produces, most from hydroelectricity. The rest it exports to India. But, according to a press release from Nissan, the majority of that money is then used to purchase fuel from India to power cars. "Reducing oil imports with this EV project will also free up finances that can be used elsewhere," Nissan says. Presumably, for more happiness projects.

Photo: Nissan

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— By on February 25, 2014, 12:20 PM PST

Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk is a freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure