The Nissan Leaf has been declared the cleanest car in the US, and it's going to have a good case to claim the same title in Bhutan. Yes, Bhutan, the country famous for measuring Gross National Happiness is about to get serious about the EV Grin.

Last December, we learned that Bhutan's capital city, Thimphu, wanted to build up a Leaf taxi fleet. That's when Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn went to Bhutan to talk about the project and he has recently returned to deliver some vehicles to the Prime Minister of Bhutan, Tshering Tobgay, who has been advocating for EVs since taking office in July and has set a preliminary target of 2,000 EVs on the streets of Thimphu.

Tobgay said his country, "will commit to a program to achieve zero emissions as a nation by a certain target date." It's not an outrageous goal for the Himalayan country, since it generates a lot of hydro-electric power, way more than it can use. There are only around 750,000 citizens of Bhutan and they only use five percent of the clean power made within its borders. Most of the rest goes to neighbor India. The problem, as expressed in Nissan's press release (available below), is that Bhutan takes "almost all of the revenue earned from selling electricity" to buy fossil fuel from India and power its national vehicle fleet. You can probably see how making the switch to EVs can simplify and clean things all around. There's a video of Ghosn's Bhutan trip below.

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Nissan Partners with Bhutan on National EV Strategy

Feb. 21 – Thimphu, Bhutan – An electric revolution has begun in Bhutan.

The remote Himalayan country, renowned for championing "Gross National Happiness," has taken first steps towards becoming a leading global electric-vehicle nation.

Prime Ministers of Bhutan, Tshering Tobgay and Nissan CEO, Carlos Ghosn

Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay and Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn announced a partnership in Thimphu Friday, which will see both parties work toward achieving Bhutan's ambitious clean-energy goals.

"We will develop a program, we will commit to a program to achieve zero emissions as a nation by a certain target date," said Tobgay who has backed the EV project since taking office in July last year.

"We cannot go on this journey ourselves, we need the world to travel with us and what better partner than to have the Nissan LEAF help us along this journey."

Press Conference in Thimphu, Bhutan

Nissan, the global leader in zero-emission vehicles, will build on its EV expertise to electrify the country's fleet and help Bhutan develop its charging infrastructure.

"There is a lot of courage, a lot of will, a lot of vision behind the Prime Minister of Bhutan's positioning on the electric car and I feel good about supporting this," said Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn.

"Obviously, it's within the interests of Nissan because we have our own interests here. But I think this can create a lot of other examples in the future and hopefully Bhutan can become a showcase."

Nissan LEAF driving on roads in Bhutan

Bhutan, rich in renewable hydro-electricity, has a strong environmental – and economic – case for EVs.

The country currently only uses 5% of the clean power it produces, exporting the majority to India.

But almost all of the revenue earned from selling electricity is spent on fuel imported from India to run the nation's existing vehicles, which number some 36,000 vehicles in Thimphu alone.

Reducing oil imports with this EV project, will also free up finances that can be used elsewhere.

Starting with two Nissan LEAF EVs presented today – the King of Bhutan's birthday - Nissan will supply more electric vehicles and quick chargers with local distributor Thunder Motors, with the government's fleet first to make the transition to zero-emissions motoring.

The LEAF stands out in Thimphu today but with the partnership underway, many more will be on the roads of Bhutan before long.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 13 Comments
      Smoking_dude
      • 1 Year Ago
      So Bhutan could run all its cars on zero emission hydro electric power and still sell most of it to India. Well that would be a win win situation. also notice the rised suspension of the black leaf. I think it even looks good on it. nice to see that you can sell an ev almost all over the world. 2010 when sales started ppl wrote oh no nissan won't sell 10,000 of those cars.
      TurboFroggy
      • 1 Year Ago
      Oh forgot to add: Super cheap, if not free super off-peak electricity for charging EVs.
      TurboFroggy
      • 1 Year Ago
      They can "partner" all they want, however it will take steep "carrot and stick" action from the Bhutan government to make this happen. I would suggest most if not all of the following: 1. Eliminate all import tax, annual tax, any taxes on EVs, I think they are doing most of this but this is important. 2. Streamline permitting for EV charging both public and private. 3. Increase, I would suggest a 100% import tax on pure gas powered vehicles. 4. Increase the gas tax by 10% per month every month for the next 10 years. 5. Income based rebates, on the hood, direct to the buyer 100% funded by #4 above. Rebates could cover as much as 80% of the cost of the vehicle. It should be just as cheap to buy an EV as an electric bicycle. 6. Expand public charging infrastructure, any parking lot with 10 or more spaces will have 1 EV spot per 10 spaces. Lots with more than 100% spaces, a DCFC installed per 100 spaces. All of this paid for by #4 above.
        Rotation
        • 1 Year Ago
        @TurboFroggy
        So just to be clear, you would like them to increase the gas tax 1,000,000%? A 10% increase every month would increase the gas tax 92,709x over 10 years. If the gas tax right now is $0.10/gal, then it would be $9271 per gallon after 10 years. This seems pointless. You might as well just ban gas because any gas in the country will be black market gas. You won't make any tax revenue to pay for 5 and 6, because no one will be buying gas. Why would making it as cheap to buy EVs as an electric bicycle be a good thing? You really want people who would otherwise buy electric bicycles to buy EVs instead? One EV parking spot per 10 spaces won't be enough if you're going to put an over $1,000/gal tax on gas. You'll have to shoot for 10 out of 10 spots.
          Rotation
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Rotation
          My bad. It's 10,000,000%. Little math error on my part.
        Marco Polo
        • 1 Year Ago
        @TurboFroggy
        @ TurboFroggy Before you go making suggestions to the Bhutan government, perhaps you should research a little bit about the Bhutan economy. The average citizens of Bhutan earns about $1400 per year ! Outside of the capital city, of only 62,000, " roads" are poorly surfaced, mountainous, often subject to mudslides, and heavy snow. You really imagine that that's the sort of place for a small, expensive, EV designed to be a city commuter vehicle ?
      • 1 Year Ago
      Oh Please Mr. Ghosn, bring this technology to Costa Rica. We are also a Happy nation that love the planet! It would be great to have a Nissan Leaf factory in Costa Rica. Please look us up!
      Marco Polo
      • 1 Year Ago
      Good old Carlos Ghosn, working hard to ensure the continuing success of the Leaf even in the most obscure places. But much as I admire the energy and commitment of the Renault-Nissan CEO to EV's, I can't help wondering about the morality of selling a few Leaf Taxi's to be showcased by the government of Bhutan as evidence of the enlightenment of life in Bhutan, especially for tourists. The government of Bhutan may measure it's " gross national happiness", among it's followers, but human rights are not a priority. The Government of Bhutan has continued with a policy of 'ethnically cleansing", more than 20% of its population. Those that remain of the wrong ethnic origin, are relegated to non-person status, and subjected to violence, robbery, murder, rape, enslavement, without protection (often encouragement) of the authorities. But back to the sales of the Leaf, in a nation where the average income is just a little over $1400 per year, it would appear, that very few citizens will be able to purchase a Leaf, which is not the most suitable vehicle for a nation of mountains, monsoons and bitterly cold winters. The showcase taxi fleet may be useful to impress tourists in the capital, Thimphu (pop 62,000), but a Leaf would find the roads outside the capital impossible.
        DarylMc
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Marco Polo
        Hi Marcopolo I was going to suggest it was a good idea to have the Leafs in Thimphu until I looked at the weather charts. Sub zero average minimum temperatures for 8 months of the year. Low teen maximums in summer. It's hard to imagine a worse environment for the Leaf. http://www.worldweatheronline.com/Thimphu-weather-averages/Thimphu/BT.aspx
          DarylMc
          • 1 Year Ago
          @DarylMc
          Just had another look Wikipedia has totally different figures for temperature. Average 25 degrees C maximum in the peak of summer. Average -2 degrees C minimum in the peak of winter. Winter record minimum -21 degrees. Looking at the map it's a small city. Maybe the preheat will be the winning feature.
          DaveMart
          • 1 Year Ago
          @DarylMc
          Bhutan, twinned with Arizona! I am getting a bit fed up with Ghosn's pushing the sales of vehicles in places and in applications where they are clearly not up to the job.
      Ryan
      • 1 Year Ago
      They seem to be doing things right in Bhutan.
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