THIMPHU, Bhutan - The remote Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan signed a deal with Japanese auto giant Nissan Friday to become the ultimate showcase for electric cars, taking advantage of its abundance of hydropower.
The announcement was made during a visit by Nissan chief executive Carlos Ghosn to Thimphu, the picturesque capital of Bhutan, whose government sees electric vehicles as a way of cutting emissions and thus averting the kind of pollution that is commonplace in cities throughout South Asia.
"The Royal Government of Bhutan is pleased to launch this partnership with Nissan as we work to achieve our vision of a leading global EV (Electric vehicle) nation," Bhutanese Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay said as he appeared at a joint press conference with Ghosn.
Nissan on Friday donated two of its Leaf electric car vehicles to the government to mark the revered Bhutanese king's birthday, while for an undisclosed price Nissan will also equip Bhutan's pool of government cars and fleet of taxis.
It will also set up a network of charging stations across Thimphu which industry experts see as vital in persuading motorists to shell out for an electric vehicle.
Wedged between India and China, the 'Land of the Thunder Dragon' is teeming with rivers and waterfalls that enable it to operate four hydroelectric plants with a combined capacity of 1,400 megawatts -- the equivalent of a powerful nuclear reactor.