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ELECTRIC VEHICLES: WILL THE TREND CATCH UP?

Words: Prashant Manandhar

Electric Vehicles (EV) are revolutionizing the world of automobiles, with many believing that the roads will be ruled by EVs and bring about a vehicular revolution. With that being said, EVs have not yet been able to surpass combustion engines at the moment; they are growing at a substantial rate showcasing almost a whopping growth of 100% each year worldwide. Then again, will this trend catch up in Nepal? Will EVs be able to sustain themselves and make a place in the competitive market?

The rise of electric vehicles started in Nepal during 2015, the year of the blockade, when fossil fuels were cut off almost completely. At that moment, many people opted for EVs as an alternative to vehicles with combustion engines. We would see people silently zooming around, commuting the city in their electric scooters and compact cars. This time period demonstrated a huge growth in sales of EVs; but it only turned out to be momentary as this had just been a substitute for most of the people.

After the blockade was lifted off, the sales weren’t what it used to be. Many reverted back to using their combustion vehicles and their EVs sat collecting dust in their garages. Yes, some still do opt for EVs, but as a secondary vehicle and as a commuting alternative within the boundaries of cities.

It seems that people are still not convinced that EVs would serve them good. They perceive these vehicles to only be tools for commuting and think that they cannot benefit from them in the long run. Most people are concerned that these vehicles won’t get them far enough; what’s the point of getting a car if it can’t even get you to Pokhara from Kathmandu in a single charge? The electric cars that we get here can go up to 120kms in a single charge and electric scooters go somewhere up to 60kms to 80kms, but most of the automobile customers’ main purpose of owning vehicles is for long distance travels and city hopping. EVs just don’t offer that kind of mileage at the moment, and the absence of power station to charge them further discourages potential customers.

However, in the past two years, companies like Terra Motors, Niu Scooters, Bella motors and other prominent manufacturers introducing EVs like the Mahindra Reva and the Kia Soul EV, we can definitely say that the market of EV have lot more to offer than what we can presently see. The growth of EVs is slowly catching up and many are going in for EVs as their first vehicles. But still, with a higher cost compared to combustion engine vehicles, the sales of EVs have not seen a substantial growth in the Nepali market to stand out.

In perspective of the same, we can also hope that there might be an increase in the EV sales as the NEA is planning to install power stations to promote the use of EVs. The first phase will be in Kathmandu and other major cities, then gradually cover other parts of the nation. Also, the Nepalese government has reduced the taxes and tariffs applicable on EVs to promote its use and allow traders to bring in better and advanced EVs which would be more efficient and convenient with better mileage.

But the question still remains: can we expect to see a revolution in the automotive industry with the growth of EVs? Will the trend of EVs really catch up in Nepal? That’s something only time can tell with the developments in infrastructures and the availability of EVs in the future. Maybe, eventually, the trend will catch on and there will be a revolution of EVs.

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