Electric cars initial reservations KuenselOnline

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Electric cars, initial reservations

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Charged: The Nissan Leaf during the launch at the Thimphu clock tower in February

PM believes people ought to overcome the physiological obstacles they were facing 

Transport: If the many inquiries and orders electric car dealers registered are any indication, the government’s ambition to promote battery-operated wheels is on track.

Since its launch in February, the electric car brand of Mahindra e2o that Singye Agencies deal in sold three of the car, the cost of which ranges from Nu 699,000 to Nu 839,000 depending on options.

A Singye Agencies official said they received numerous inquires everyday.

As for the Nissan Leaf, Thunder motors officials claimed they received a good number of orders.

Thunder Motors chief executive officer Dr Tashi Wangchuk said they were going to import the car in bulk to give their customers choice in terms of colour and the variant.

He said Thunder Motors’ focus was to establish a manufacturing and assembling unit in collaboration with Nissan to produce low cost electric cars.

“Cars that are as competitive as petrol ones,” he said. “We hope to reduce costs significantly by over 30 to 50 percent without compromising performance, safety and reliability.”

However, the full option or the highest variant of Nissan Leaf would be sold at Nu 1,400,000.

Currently Nissan has its manufacturing plant in Chennai, which will manufacture the vehicle to be exported to Bhutan.

Dr Tashi Wangchuk said they were working on gradually shifting that plant to Bhutan.

He said this move would allow the country to export electric cars in the neighboring countries like China and India.

Bhutan Power Corporation intends to buy about eight electric cars for office use in Thimphu.

Corporation’s managing director Dasho Bharat Tamang said talks are being held with the government to subsidise the cost.

He said the corporation’s non-electric cars like Hilux pick up truck would be sent to remote stations where requirement is more felt.

“Although the initial cost is expensive, electric cars are more sustainable given the maintenance and expenditure on fuel,” he said.

However, many people are still unsure of its reliability.

Many expressed concerns over longevity of batteries electric cars run besides the initial higher cost of the cars in comparison with other combustion driven vehicles.


Others said although charging stations would be established at various points within the city, with more electric vehicles on the road, more time would be lost waiting to charge them.

During a meet the press session Lyonchhoen Tshering Tobgay said they planned to install more than 55 charging stations across the country, within a 50km distance. Thimphu alone would have six such stations.

Reviews online also reveal that battery capacity reduces in cold temperature.

Dr Tashi Wangchuk said the issues people discussed in relation to electric cars was a “misconception”.

“Electric cars are very reliable and I have been driving one for the last three years,” he said. “I spent around Nu 7,000 a month in fuel for my petrol car earlier, but with electric car, my electricity bill only rose by Nu 200 a month.”

He also said electric cars required maintenance once a year only.

During the launching of the Mahindra e2o, Mahindra Automotive’s executive director and president Dr Pawan Goenka said there was no immediate solution to bringing down the initial cost of electric cars because the technology itself was expensive.

Mahindra Reva’s chief executive officer Chetan Maini said that in last 18 months, sale of non-electric vehicles increased by three percent globally against electric vehicle’s 70 percent increase.

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“This is because of the rapid evolution in battery technology,” he said, adding the lithium ion batteries, currently used in e2o and the Leaf, had properties to regenerate itself.

“It can last for more than eight years after which it can be recycled,” he said.

At the e2o launch, Lyonchhoen Tshering Tobgay said it was the physiological obstacle people were facing, when there was the political will and the government was committed to supporting electric vehicle through tax exemptions, subsidies and free power.

The only problem with Nissan, he said was that lacked adequate charging stations and that they were seeking funds to install enough in the country.

Members of the opposition, however, felt more study was required to gauge the viability of electric cars.

Opposition leader Dr Pema Gyamtsho said the country’s geographical conditions and the nature of the Bhutanese roads had to be considered.

“Bhutan Standards Bureau should finally approve the use of electric vehicles,” he said.

Opposition’s Kinga Tshering said in most other nations it was people who could afford two vehicles that opted for an electric car.

Over an email interview, Nissan’s global corporate communications officer Roland Buerk said he was “absolutely confident” of the reliability, quality and performance of the Leaf, which was sold in 35 other countries already.

He said the car generated some of the best customer feedback of any vehicle in the Nissan line-up.

“Nissan will ensure we have good customer communications in Bhutan to fully explain the features of the Leaf,” he said. “That will be coupled with a public awareness campaign to educate the public about electric vehicles.”

He said Nissan would be conducting technical studies with their local partner to ensure customer experience with Leaf for people in Bhutan would meet Nissan standards.

Roland Buerk said Nissan has never had an exclusive distribution agreement in Bhutan and that it sought a local partner.

“Thunder motors shared similar commitment towards achieving the goal of sustainable transport,” he said.

By Tshering Dorji

Mia electric Electric Cars
Mia electric Electric Cars
Mia electric Electric Cars

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