Triple Win for Electric Vehicles and Nissan, in Bhutan

by Sandy Dechert

EV Central. EV Sales. Nissan and Bhutan are linking up to convert the entire car fleet of the country to Electric Vehicles.
EV Central. EV Sales. Nissan and Bhutan are linking up to convert the entire car fleet of the country to Electric Vehicles. Photo of a Leaf negotiating Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan, released by Nissan 2/21/14.

A new agreement between leading EV manufacturer Renault-Nissan and the Asian mountain nation of Bhutan looks like a win for both parties, and a great development for electric vehicles in general.

Carlos Ghosn, Nissan’s chief executive officer, visited Bhutan this week to cement the deal with Tshering Tobgay, the Himalayan country’s progressive new prime minister.

Bhutan stands to gain strength as a nation by aggressive pursuit of non-fossil vehicles like the Leaf. It may also become an environmental role model for other nations.

Wedged between India and China, Bhutan’s 27 hydroelectric plants export huge amounts of power in both directions. However, as noted in our earlier article on this topic, the country suffers from its need to import petroleum.

Without the burden of internal combustion engines, Bhutan can drop major expenditures and head for energy self-sufficiency, or better. Tobgay aims to cut Bhutan’s fossil fuel imports by a whopping 70%. The nation’s compact area and its light-duty industrial focus (40% of all jobs are in agriculture) make it an ideal candidate for EV conversion.

As for Nissan, the new move doesn’t seem all that important on the surface–the giant manufacturer has deals in about 100 other countries, many of them larger–but Nissan will benefit greatly from the Bhutan agreement for a number of reasons.

First, although other EV brands are also welcome, Nissan will gain most because it has captured a large share of the market up front. The government vehicles already contracted and taxis in the second purchase round make up about 10–15% of all of Bhutan’s cars and small trucks. The taxi fleet alone will equal about 3.5% of all EVs the company has sold worldwide so far. And the Leafs will start arriving in about a week….

Will the price tag on these zero-emissions Nissans be too high for local customers? Bloomberg News quoted residents of the capital city as expressing skepticism. A travel agent asked the reporter, “Will the electric cars be cheap? If not, then it won’t make a difference.”

Not much at first to individuals, perhaps, but certainly to the economy and the Franco-Japanese manufacturing alliance. World Bank data reportedly show that at a US non-discounted starting price of $28,000, the Leaf costs about 12 times times the average income of a person in Bhutan. Because few but high-income residents have cars currently, the situation for most citizens will not change. “If we can get international agencies and individuals to support us to subsidize one-third of that price, it becomes very affordable,” Tobgay pointed out.

Ghosn said it’s too early for Nissan to shake out an initial vehicle price. Government investment will probably encourage more consumers, and subsequent economies of scale will likely make EVs more affordable. Bhutan is also considering exempting electric cars from import duties and taxes. And, of course, the money saved by switching from fossil fuel imports will benefit the entire population.

Operating at High Altitudes

John Voelcker of Green Car Reports and others note that Nissan will work with Bhutan on modifications to suit local conditions. Distance above sea level does not mandate adaptations. Although, average elevation in Bhutan is 8,000 feet (almost 3,000 meters), which makes a huge difference to propulsion of internal combustion engines (although less so when turbocharged)–however, altitude hardly matters with electric-powered cars.

Nonetheless, factors that accompany elevation do make a difference to performance of all kinds of vehicles. Bhutan’s a speck on the global scale, but consider that similar mountain ranges cover approximately 20% of the world’s surface, originate 80% of its fresh water, and house 10% of its population, totaling 715 million people. Among the world’s million-plus metropolitan areas over a mile high are several huge cities in Mexico, including its capital; urban areas in Central and South America; and other places, like Nairobi, Addis Ababa, Kabul, and Sana’a (Yemen).

High-altitude regions differ in some aspects (proximity to the equator, distance to water, types of landforms, and biomes, for example), but they share important characteristics like difficult terrain, rapid variations in weather–sometimes including more precipitation–and temperature, and increased vulnerability to natural disasters like earthquakes, volcanism, avalanche, landslides, and severe erosion. All of these factors contribute to making Bhutan an ideal laboratory for honing electric vehicles to accommodate challenging conditions like excessive slopes, switchbacks, mudslides, and even gravel or dirt roadways. (Fully 40% of Bhutan’s roads are unpaved.)

The deal between Nissan and Bhutan is likely good news for everybody involved in the electric vehicle explosion of the 20-teens. There’s no question that the position of EVs will improve in general from these guaranteed sales. Nissan brings to the table the #1 electric vehicle in the world, sales and marketing experience, and design/engineering skills.

Bhutan, a laboratory for mountainous testing conditions, constitutes a mighty powerful and relatively captive test market with a favorable, environmentally motivated government. And EVs on the whole benefit not only by a guaranteed increase in their numbers and visibility. They also gain more experience with government/manufacturer partnering and a sturdier grasp on the world’s most difficult road conditions.

This article, Win-Win-Win For Electric Cars, Nissan, Bhutan, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

EV Central. EV Sales. Sandy Dechert Sandy Dechert covers environmental, health, renewable and conventional energy, and climate change news.

She’s worked for groundbreaking environmental consultants and a Fortune 100 health care firm, writes two top-level blogs on Examiner.com, ranked #2 on ONPP’s 2011 Top 50 blogs on Women’s Health, and attributes her modest success to an “indelible habit of poking around to satisfy my own curiosity.”

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EV Sports Car in Nissan’s Future says Nissan Design Chief

Originally published on Gas2 by Christopher DeMorro

Teaser or Reveal? Nissan hints at an EV sports car, possibly with in-wheel electric motors.
Nissan hints at an EV sports car, possibly with in-wheel electric motors. Nissan ESFLOW concept car shown for illustrative purposes only.

Since it went on sale in late 2010, over 100,000 Nissan Leafs have been sold, marking an important milestone for both the brand, and electric cars in general.

But what about the promised electric sports car Nissan teased a few years ago? It’s still in the works, according to Nissan’s design chief, and it could combine elements of popular past concepts.

In an interview with Motor Authority, Nissan’s global design chief Shiro Nakamura says that the Leaf’s design is obviously designed to appeal to the masses, rather than debut any sort of cutting edge looks. Those far out, futuristic looks are reserved for the electric sports car Nissan is still working on, and which may combine design attributes borrowed from the Nissan Bladeglider and ESFLOW concepts. Perhaps we’ll see a little bit of the Nissan ZEOD RC race car influence as well.

In-wheel electric motors are also mentioned, with Nakamura mentioning that large improvements in efficiency are making in-wheel motors more appealing.

With the Leaf finding its way into 100,000 homes, perhaps now Nissan will let designers be a bit more daring with the next electric car, allowing Nakamura to show off the sporty, exciting side of EVs. Perhaps Nissan will also go forward with the promised all-electric racing series as well?

Racing series aside, it sounds like Nissan is working on an electric sports car for the common man, and if you ask me, it can’t come soon enough.

Source: Motor Authority

This article, Electric Sports Car From Nissan Still Under Development, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Chris DeMorroChristopher DeMorro is a writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs. When he isn’t wrenching or writing, he’s running, because he’s one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.

Houston Saves $110,000 per Year With Nissan Leaf Fleet

Houston Saves $110,000 per Year With Nissan Leaf Fleet | 19/12/13
Originally published on EV Obsession by Zachary Shahan

The City of Houston’s green transportation initiative dates back to 2002, when the city received its first two Toyota Prius vehicles.

Since then, our light duty passenger fleet has become over 50% hybrid. Houston has the 3rd largest municipal hybrid fleet in the nation.

The City of Houston drives electric. Image courtesy of City of Houston.
Houston has the 3rd largest municipal hybrid fleet in the U.S. Image courtesy of City of Houston / Houston Drives Electric

We’ve written about it many times: electric cars are much, much cheaper to run. Based on the average price of electricity in the US, gas at $3.50/gallon, and the average miles driven per year, the Nissan Leaf costs $473.98/year to fuel while the Nissan Rogue costs $1,965.25/year to fuel.

Furthermore, there are big maintenance savings — no oil changes, no busted tubes or valves, no transmission problems, etc.

If you’re a person who drives a lot, those fuel savings from driving electric can add up fast. If you’ve got a fleet of quite active vehicles, you’ll be seeing even bigger numbers. Houston is now testament to this. The Texan city has 27 Nissan Leaf’s in its government fleet.

It estimates that these super-efficient electric cars will save the local government about $110,000 a year.

Houston first began using electric vehicles for the environmental benefits they offer, but now we are planning to add even more EVs to our fleet because of the cost savings they bring,” said Laura Spanjian, director of sustainability for the City of Houston.

We project that electric vehicles will save the city $110,000 per year in reduced fuel and maintenance, costs that we would otherwise have to spend on gas-powered vehicles.

Also, our new car sharing program FleetShare, which we developed with ZipCar, provides easy access to the vehicles for Houston’s employees.

Along with Houston, the city of Loveland, Colorado also just announced huge savings from switching fleet gasmobiles over to electric vehicles (again, Leaf’s). It didn’t provide a total savings estimate, but it noted that the Leaf’s cost 41% to operate (for fuel & maintenance).

Loveland needed to do something about rising fuel costs, and electric vehicles have proven to be a great solution, saving us about 41 percent overall compared to gas-powered vehicles, Loveland Mayor Cecil Gutierre said.

In tough economic times, these savings cannot be ignored. Loveland is now aiming to convert all of its light-duty fleet vehicles that work within a close distance of the city to EV’s.

This article, Nissan Leafs Bring $110,000 In Annual Savings To Houston City Government, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.