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Portugal's prime minister drives electric

Portugese prime minister José Socrates will be the first world head of government to travel exclusively by electric car for his official business, it has been claimed, following the delivery to Portugal of 10 Nissan Leaf EVs.

The other nine Leafs went to Portuguese electric mobility consortium MOBI.E, making it the vehicle's first commercial customer in Europe.

"Portugal is extremely proud of the introduction of the electric vehicle,” said José Socrates. “This initiative is only possible due to the fast implementation and development of the MOBI.E charging network, which is considered a leading example to the world of how to roll out electric cars. Portugal is the first country in the world to have a nationwide smart grid for electric vehicles."

The MOBI.E network, which currently covers 25 municipalities throughout the country, has over 50 charging points already installed and will grow to more than 1300 normal charging points and 50 fast-charging stations by mid-2011. In addition, Portugal – which generates about 45 per cent of its total electricity consumption from renewable sources – is considering using electric cars for distributed power storage.

“After 3 years of collaborative work between the Government, public entities, the corporate consortium which developed the MOBI.E solution and Nissan, we have achieved the first smart, built-in charging network on a national scope, therefore we are the first country to welcome electric vehicles,” Socrates noted. “By combining in a pioneer manner our commitment to renewable energies, the implementation of the smart charging network and the introduction of electric vehicles, Portugal will be in the lead of the transition to a more sustainable future."

"Today marks the start of a zero-emission mobility era in Portugal, one of the first countries in the world to adopt a nationwide electric mobility policy,” said Carlos Tavares, executive vice-president of Nissan Motor Co. “We are honoured to be part of this new chapter in Portugal's history with the 100% electric Nissan LEAF. Portugal's commitment to environmental progress will inspire many other countries.”

The Nissan Leaf, which was recently awarded European Car of the Year 2011, is powered by a compact electric motor driving the front wheels. The AC motor develops a power output of 109PS and 280Nm of torque, enough for a maximum speed of 145 km/h (90mph). The electric motor is powered by a Nissan-developed laminated lithium-ion battery with an output of more than 90kW, and has a range of 175 km (110 miles) between charges.

Deliveries to customers have already begun in Japan and the US, while in Europe, deliveries to Portugal, Ireland, the UK and the Netherlands will start in the first quarter of 2011. Production of the car, which is currently being manufactured in Japan, is due to start in Sunderland, in the UK, from early 2013.

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