There’s a new vehicle on the road in Wuhan, a key city in central China, where traffic density is among the nation's highest.Amid the bustle, though, it will be hard to hear the 100% electric car coming, or any of the 14 other Nissan LEAF EVs.The Wuhan Municipal Government is deploying the cars, while another 15 LEAFs were also delivered further south to Guangzhou, part of a local government pilot program promoting energy efficiency and zero-emission mobility.
China, the world's second largest fuel importer, brought in more than 50% of its fuel needs last year but hopes to reduce that level.The government's latest five-year plan supports a New Energy Vehicle initiative to popularize electric cars, plug-in hybrids and, in the future, fuel-cell vehicles, while currently more than 8,000 EVs are in pilot programs across 25 Chinese cities.
“This is not just for cars, but for the entire transportation system. We believe new energy vehicles will become an important part of China’s green transport system. It will help boost China’s efforts to save energy and reduce emissions,” said Jun Fu, chairman of the Wuhan Electric Vehicle Demonstration Co. which manages the LEAF EV fleet for the municipal government.
“Residents can experience advanced technology through the use of such vehicles and, at the same time, enjoy the convenience it brings to their travelling lifestyle.”
The pilot program in China is one of over 100 partnerships that Nissan has with governments and companies globally.It also plans to host educational events and test rides, supporting further rollout of charging infrastructure.The joint venture passenger-vehicle business unit, Dongfeng Nissan, plans to develop and build by 2015 an EV under its brand Venucia, especially for the Chinese market.For many students at Wuhan University of Technology, it was their first time riding in an EV.
“It's very cool. Especially during the first round, the driver was going quite fast and I can feel the power of the acceleration. The kind of power that you feel in a gas car, I was surprised to feel it in the electric car as well. Through my research as an automotive engineering student, I thought acceleration may not be as strong in an electric car. But with this experience, I’ve changed my mind,” said Wang Bin, who studies at the university.
Added Zhou Zhou, another student at the Wuhan University of Technology: “I think electric vehicles are the next generation for automobiles. From an overall perspective, we’ve nearly exhausted the use of crude oil, and the price is so high. The electric vehicle industry is still emerging, with developments in battery technology and within the industry itself, EVs will become the next push.”
Another 10 Nissan LEAF EVs will join the fleet in Wuhan next year, helping China build its early foundation into a zero-emission cornerstone.