Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn presented two Leaf electric cars to the government of Bhutan, as a gesture of support for the small nation’s efforts to become more energy-independent. The mountainous terrain and rivers running through the country has endowed it with a surplus of hydro-electric power, the majority of which it sells to neighboring India. Conversely, Bhutan imports almost all of its transportation fuel, making the prospect of electrifying its transportation fleet an attractive one.
The small mountain country only uses about five percent of the energy produced by its 27 hydro-electric powerplants, exporting the majority of its power to neighboring India. But Bhutan has a relatively modest per-person GDP of approximately $2400, making the prospect of purchasing the almost $30,000 Nissan Leaf a distant prospect for most of its citizens. Among its population of 700,000, there are only 44,678 registered vehicles. The country is reportedly considering exempting electric vehicles from taxes and allowing them to earn carbon credits.
Even Ghosn admitted the company is a long way from dominating the roads of Bhutan. “This is a very initial step,” Ghosn said in a Bloomberg report. Everyday citizens showed interest in the idea of electric cars, but were more concerned about the cost than the hypothetical environmental benefit.
Other countries that have very EV-friendly policies include Norway, Denmark and the U.K. Even in electric-friendly Denmark, electric cars only accounted for 0.3 percent of total sales for 2013.