The world’s best-selling electric car is now the world’s most popular electric car taxi model. Auto manufacturer Nissan recently inked a deal with Spanish taxi company La Ciudad del Taxi for an order of 110 LEAF units to ply the routes of Madrid, Spain’s capital city. The green deal was announced at the 2016 Madrid Motor Show. This puts the Iberian country into contention for the record of world’s largest electric taxi fleet, currently held by Amsterdam, The Netherlands, where around 100 LEAF units are currently operating.
The Nissan LEAF turns a new leaf
Pardon the pun, but what is making the LEAF an ideal taxi model now? Nissan has unveiled significant upgrades in the world’s first ever electric car designed for affordability. Its battery now boasts of 30 kWh power which delivers up to 107 miles of driving range on a single charge – a 27% improvement over the previous 24 kWh battery. The new battery also contains eight new cells per module, in comparison to the 24 kWh battery’s four cells per module spec. Extra enhancements also include a new exterior, a roomy interior, additional charging options, and audio, entertainment and connectivity upgrades
Nissan’s market hold in Spain
With the electric taxi deal, Spain is now one of Nissan’s largest markets for electric taxis. For the Japanese car maker, this is the largest fleet order to date. The company is not only selling the 2016 model of the LEAF, but also the taxi version of its electric van, the e-NV200. The taxi model of the van is actually manufactured in the company’s plant in Barcelona, another Spanish city. The Nissan LEAF has sold over 200,000 units worldwide by December 2015, five years after its debut. In Spain, Nissan sold 421 units of the LEAF and 303 units of the e-NV200, holding more than 58% of the total electric car sales in the country during the fiscal year 2015.
Spain’s place in the electric vehicle market
Spain itself is the 2nd largest auto manufacturer in Europe and 11th worldwide. It is also one of the leading EU markets for electric mobility, being host to a number of multinational and local companies that manufacture electric vehicles and provide parts and components for electric models. Its national and local government units pledge full support for the use of electric vehicles by subsidizing electric car purchases and the construction and maintenance of charging infrastructures. Like other EU countries, Spain is under pressure to reduce pollution and expand the use of renewable energy.
Spanish consumers like the idea of electric vehicles taking over the streets. In a survey released two years ago, 65% of prospective car buyers have a highly favorable opinion of them, while more than half of those surveyed are willing to buy one. Most respondents believe electric vehicles are safe, reliable, and easy to drive. But amidst positive perception and market opportunity, there are challenges. Only 15% are fully aware of an electric vehicle, which is seen by Spanish car buyers as a high-end purchase. Only 2% of the total vehicles sold are electric units, whether all-electric or plug-in hybrids. When attracting buyers, car makers will need to emphasize the personal benefits of driving an electric vehicle above the obvious environmental benefits.
Europe sees multi-fold increase in electric vehicle sales, and Spain is no exemption. The city of Madrid itself is styling to become like Amsterdam as a bustling metropolis with a focus in clean technology. Compact electric vehicles like the Nissan LEAF makes as an ideal ride in a congested city like Madrid. They are easy to maneuver in traffic, and their low operating costs appeal to taxi fleet operators in a country that is struggling economically.