One of the only ways around the green tax that the government is proposing to levy on vehicles is have green or electric cars.
While very few electric or battery-run cars ply the roads in the capital city today, more could be expected to be roaming the city with the local taxis anytime soon.
Thunder Motors that launched electric cars and scooters earlier this year is in the process of manufacturing 22 electric, I10-sized-cars, majority of which would be used as cabs in the capital city.
Its owner Tashi Wangchuk said he decided on the move following discussions and positive feedback from taxi drivers in Thimphu who showed great interest in driving the cars.
“We’ve orders for 10 electric cars to be used as cabs and will be launched latest by September,” Tashi Wangchuk said, adding that with banks unable to provide the credit, the company slowed down because it had to import components from Germany, Japan, the United States and China.
“It’ll take us about five years to recover our initial investment,” he said.
Thunder Motors was launched in March this year with support from Bhutan National Bank and its investment so far was Nu 30M with plans to invest an additional Nu 180M for construction of a new assembling plant with 200 trained local employees.
Talks are ongoing for a lease land at Paskaha to establish an assembling plant and although there are few local investors, the company is also looking for FDIs.
The electric cars cost about Nu 400,000 excluding the lithium battery and Thunder Motors plans to rent batteries as it costs an additional Nu 400,000 taking the cost for the car to Nu 800,000.
“A fully charged battery will take the car some 130km,” he said. “Recharging its battery fully will take less than an hour costing about Nu 10.”
Unlike the battery cars used in India, he said those they looked at manufacturing were designed for rugged terrains and high altitude.
“We’ve to use different motors, stronger batteries and controllers,” he said.
Thunder Motors is working with Gross National Happiness Commission in establishing charging stations across the country.
Initially, the stations would be established in Thimphu, Paro, Chhukha, Punakha and Wangduephodrang before gradually spreading the facility to other dzongkhags.
“Each station would have 610V and would be built between every 50km stretch,” he said.
Till date, Thunder Motors sold six electric bikes of prices ranging from Nu 70,000 to Nu 90,000.
A corporate employee and a part time cab driver, Karma said in view of the recent issue of Rupee crunch that has made availing loans difficult, proposals to hike petroleum prices with tax revision, green cars would certainly be welcomed.
Although electric cabs were certainly an alternative at a time when various taxes were being considered and, Tashi, another cab driver in Thimphu, said the likes of him would find it too expensive to own an electric car.
“With batteries if the car is going to cost about Nu 800,000 we’d rather settle for a foreign car if we really that much money,” he said. “Therefore, the electric car owner’s plans to rent batteries had better materialise.”
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