Mexico City – Mexico's capital inaugurated its "Zero-Emission Taxis" program with the rollout of the first three electric vehicles and the presentation of the first quick-charge stations.
Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard, who presided over the ceremony, said the electric stations - located in the capital's historic center - will use solar energy collected by photovoltaic panels.
"In the case of the taxis, (the program is) designed for them to travel up to 220 kilometers (135 miles) every day," the average distance covered by cabs in the Mexican capital, he said.
According to Ebrard, taxis were chosen for the program because they "make more trips" and "move all day long" and therefore their environmental impact is bigger than that of other means of public transport.
Officials added that private vehicles and taxis account for more than 48 percent and 18 percent, respectively, of all vehicle fuel consumed in Mexico City.
In the first stage of the pilot program, Japanese automaker Nissan will deliver 100 Leaf vehicles - including the three unveiled Wednesday - to the Mexico City government by year's end.
"With these first vehicles the idea is to provide clean transport service to people in the city's historic center," Jose Muñoz, president of Nissan's Mexican division, said.
The taxis will operate with average run times between charges of between four and eight hours, according to Gabriela Fernandez, CEO of General Electric en Mexico, which is providing the quick-charge system for the electric vehicles.
"With the rollout of a quick-charge station like this one, the Mexican market is strengthening its energy security, driving innovation in clean energies, reducing dependence on oil and generating economic value for our inhabitants," she said during the ceremony, held at one of the stations.
Once 100 units are on the roads, the program will save almost five tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually in Mexico City.
The project was announced in 2009 as part of the so-called Green Plan, aimed at promoting care for and rational use of natural resources by capital city residents.