Yangyel Lhaden 

With many taxi drivers showing interest in electric vehicles (EV), the EV project office has completed registration of 300 taxis and more.

There are 129 electric taxis on road with 145 confirmed booking EVs soon to arrive in the country.

The project called “ Bhutan Sustainable Low Emission Urban Transport System’ started in 2019 to replace 300 fuel driven taxis with electric vehicle (EV)  in the country by September this year.

The project provides a 20 percent subsidy on the cost of the EV with a maximum ceiling of USD 5,500  and a 70 percent loan. A taxi driver has to pay only 10 percent of the cost upfront. The project has so far released 20 percent subsidy to 253 beneficiaries.

The EV Project has stopped registration from taxi drivers for 20 percent subsidy from May 11. There are seven interested professional drivers on standby wanting to procure an electric taxi.

EV project manager Sonam Tobgye said that if there is credit information bureau of Bhutan (CIB) issues with the registered taxi drivers then preference would be given to those on standby. “Registered taxi drivers are serious to procure an EV because many come with CIB document to register with us.”

He said that owing to the pandemic and delay in vehicles arriving in the country the journey to meet the target to replace 300 fossil driven taxis was not easy. “With the situation improving globally and the arrival of vehicles, many taxi drivers are interested to procure an EV.”

There are five EV dealers in the country.

According to records with the EV project, Kuenphen Motors has delivered 89 EV taxis so far and is aiming for 132 units of EV to arrive in the country by August. In June, 66 units of EV are expected to arrive, 36 units by July, and 30 units in August.

Bhutan Hyundai Motors has delivered 12 EVs with one on the way to arrive in the country. Karjung Motors has delivered nine EVs and is expected to deliver of 30 EVs by end of this month.

Samden Vehicles has delivered 14 EVs and has 12 confirmed bookings.

Sonam Tobgye said that an EV usually took between two and four months to arrive in the country after booking. “Before the project ends, we are hoping all 300 taxis will arrive in the country and EV dealers have also placed extra orders out of the booking which will help meet the deadline of the project.”

He said that by end of June the project officials were looking forward to wrapping up the project by reviewing it to study whether the project has met its goal and objectives. “The result of this pilot EV project will determine the future of EV in the country.”