Five Nissan Leafs began serving passengers in the city of Dalian on Monday in a pilot program designed to support a plan for local production of the pure electric. According to an agreement signed last year between the Dalian government and Dongfeng-Nissan, the electric taxi fleet will be expanded to 1,000 units in the coming years–provided that the pilot program runs smoothly.
Managed by Dalian Junda Taxi Co., Ltd., the five Leafs can be recharged at two stations built specially for the program. One of them is located in the city’s special tax zone, where Dongfeng-Nissan’s new vehicle factory is under construction.
According to a Nikkei report from last year (read our article on it), the Dalian factory, which has a designed annual capacity of 200,000 and is scheduled to open in 2014, will roll out SUVs and EVs. The EVs to be built there are believed to be production models of Venucia E30, a re-badged Nissan Leaf.
"Dongfeng-Nissan will provide R&D and technological support to Dalian’s effort to develop its new energy vehicle industry, while the municipal government will push forward EV-infrastructure construction and draw up policies to promote new energy vehicles," states the city in an official press release. Falling short of acknowledging Dalian is preparing for local production of Nissan EVs, the document nevertheless says the pilot program "will provide a basis for Dongfeng-Nissan to have a diversified product line at the Dalian factory."
Besides Dalian, Nissan Leaf has participated in similar programs in two other Chinese cities, Shanghai and Guangzhou.