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From Thunder Motors Regarding Electric Taxis
Tashi Wangchuk, June 13, 2015
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The recent complaints on the electric cars especially from the electric Nissan Leaf taxi-driving community, has become an issue discussed at the highest discussion levels of parliamentary house.

The persistent coverage on the topic especially by the national newspaper has perhaps been beneficial in “keeping the nation informed.” However, many chief aspects in this matter has been ‘skipped-out’ of media coverage for reasons which are perhaps attributable to insufficient reporting whereby all bases are not covered.

It has become crucial at this stage for the Thunder Motors to intrude on the series of miscommunication that the general population may eventually swallow as truth about the company or the Nissan Leaf cars.

To portray a balanced picture, the Thunder Motors would like for the esteemed media house who swear by the highest of journalistic ethics to communicate the highly essential details that has not entirely reached the minds of readers.

A press release with all valid points (most of which has not been communicated in media coverage) is attached for your perusal.

The media in the country as the acclaimed fourth estate of a nation and the proverbial watchdog has upheld its end in striving to stay true to its mandates. The current issue of e-cars as being communicated in the mainstream media could make a bad example out of the institution as a whole if the truth is not delivered as it is.

1. The electric taxi owners purchased the Nissan Leafs on their own free will after each of them had test-driven the vehicles for more than a week. In one case the taxi driver had the vehicle for over two months before he made a purchase decision.

2. They were fully aware of the driving range based on their individual test periods and based on word of mouth testimonies to each other since they purchased in a staggered manner over a period of five months.

3. They were never promised 175 km driving range on the used Leafs and they were fully aware of the driving range of the used Leafs. One managed a distance of 130 km during his test drive period.

4. Driving trainings were provided to get the most out of their Leafs, such as driving in Eco battery saving mode, driving at a consistent speed and within the speed limits.

5. Driving range of Leafs for the 2011/2012 models is rated at 117 km by the U.S. EPA. This model was imported for Taxis and had been used in Japan as Nissan rental cars. The main reason for import of these particular vehicles was to provide an affordable EV for the taxis. The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) rating is 150 to 177 km and the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) rating is 175 km for the same model. For the new Leafs 2013/2014 models the EPA rating is 121 km and the NEDC is 200km.

6. Based on independent third-party test drives carried out in the US, reviewers have found that the range available from a single charge can vary up to 40% in real-world situations. Reports vary from about 100 km to almost 222 km depending on driving style, load, traffic conditions, terrain, weather, and accessory use.

7. Most of the taxi drivers have been given time to make payments in installments for up to a year or more.

8. If dissatisfied they should have asked for a refund within a reasonable period of time, in this case we would have considered even a month or two’s period especially since we have accommodated all their requirements and resolved any problems they faced. However, after a period of 10 months and in some cases having driven the vehicles for more than 70,000 kms, it is unreasonable to return the vehicles.

9. Yeshi Tshering, a Leaf taxi owner, was quoted in a Reuters article from 9 June 2015 as spending only about Nu 1,000 monthly to charge his electric taxi whereas in the past he said he spent over Nu 30,000 on refueling his petrol taxi.

10. As such due to the low cost of operation of an electric taxi, incomes are also comparatively higher than that of petrol taxis for the same period of time worked. In the past taxi drivers spent over one third of their income on fuel, or “working for the oil companies” as some of them aptly said.

11. Two of the taxi drivers have purchased the vehicles from the original owners, so if willing to sell as taxis, there is a ready market and the taxi owners are fully aware of this.

12. The electric taxi owners have already enjoyed a double benefit not available to other taxi drivers; they sold their old petrol taxis as taxis for a healthy sum, they were permitted to register the Leafs as taxis as a special consideration.

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