Bhutan’s Government Ramped Up Support For More To Drive Electric Vehicles, Help Reduce Harmful Emissions

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The dealers and the manager have given the taxi drivers their guarantee on battery and the important parts of the EV.

(Source: Plugin-magazine)

By Usha Drukpa | The Bhutanese

Based on the registered number, more than 200 taxi drivers in Bhutan’s capital, Thimphu have expressed their interest on buying Electric Vehicle (EV) taxis.

Till date, around 47 taxi drivers have already made confirmation on their EV taxi purchase, and the Ministry of Information and Communications (MoIC) has released a 20 percent subsidy to them.

Taxi drivers in Thimphu said the government has assured them with the guarantee and promise to install charging stations in the necessary areas, so they do not have to worry about going on long tours.

Advantages of driving EVs

According to the taxi drivers, the EVs will help them save on fuel money and they feel good about reducing harmful emission level while saving the environment at the same time.

An average taxi driver spends around Nu 25,000 on fuel per month. With the EV, they can expect to save the fuel amount.

Nim Dorji, 43, said they have come forward to use EV because the government is supporting them.

 

A Nissan Leaf electric taxi at Paro airport in Bhutan. This BT-1 Thimphu registered car runs on electricity and draws power from a charging port at the airport in Paro.

Source: Youtube/WildFilmsIndia

However, the first EV taxi left a negative impression on the taxi drivers as charging and maintenance was a problem.

Jit Bdr Rai, 35, said that he usually spends Nu 500 on fuel for the local rounds in Thimphu town, but if he has an EV taxi, that Nu 500 will be saved.

He spends almost Nu 15,000 on fuel in a month and looks forward to reducing pollution level with the new technology.

“Some people told me that electronics does not last long and for long tours, it is a bad idea to go for it, but after attending several meetings with the MoIC project manager and the dealers, they have assured us that the EV we are buying will be able to cover 800,000 to 900,000 km.”

The dealers and the manager have given the taxi drivers their guarantee on battery and the important parts of the EV.

“Because of this, we believe them and hope that the EV will be a good choice for us,” said Jit Bdr.

However, he has also heard mixed reviews about the EV taxi from the ones who had driven second hand EV taxis bought from Japan earlier.

But this time, all the taxi drivers are showing interest to buy EVs because the government is supporting and assuring them that the EV will not be the same like those from few years ago, he added.

What some drivers think about EVs

Tenzin, 40, who has been driving public transport bus said that when he heard about the government’s project on EV for taxi drivers, he wanted to be part of it.

Therefore, he started driving a taxi since the government is also giving a subsidy of 20 percent. He is convinced of the assurance given on the quality of the EV by the government.

 

Photo: Kuensel

 

The main perk is that taxi drivers can save a huge amount of money on fuel. The only challenge is to have enough charging stations so that taxi drivers do not have to worry when their battery exhausts, said Tenzin.

Nar Bdr Subba, 39, has been driving his taxi in Thimphu for 10 years. The main reason for changing his regular taxi to an EV is that he can earn a little extra.

After so many meetings with the MoIC, he learnt that there is a huge negative impact on the environment caused by fossil fuel vehicles.

Tshedup Tobgay, 45, said that although he is not a regular taxi driver, he has plans to do full time with the EV taxi that he has ordered.

Yangzom, 38, said that she could never afford to buy an EV taxi without funding from the government.

“We are very glad that the government is supporting and assuring us that the EV which we will be buying is going to benefit us and the nation on the whole, by reducing emission in the environment.”

Sangay Wangmo, 43, who has been driving a taxi for almost eight years said that the price of fuel has been increasing every year, and with the EV taxi, it will help ease her fuel expenses.

In order to promote EVs, the UNDP and Bhutan Trust Fund have funded one unit of EV to the project management

The project manager, Phub Gyeltshen, said that he has been driving an EV around to promote the vehicle, and is amazed that only 20 percent of the battery is consumed when travelling from Thimphu to Phuentsholing.

I shared this discovery with taxi drivers and they were surprised to hear it as well, said the project manager.

Meanwhile, six units of EV will arrive by this month, and a sample the car by the end of January. The MoIC is also planning to have an EV exhibition during His Majesty’s Birth Anniversary when the dealers have the EV sample ready.

 

This article first appeared in The Bhutanese and has been edited for Daily Bhutan.

 

 


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