Yangyel Lhaden 

Despite the long wait of more than three years, Sonam Dendup and his friends, all taxi drivers, were happy to collect their electric vehicles (EV) on May 7.

Kuenphen Motors, their vehicle dealer, launched 52 EVs (including a private EV) in Changlingmithang for the project called Bhutan Sustainable Low Emission Urban Transport Systems. The project aims to replace 300 taxis by end of this year.

With this launch, the project has distributed 129 EV taxis so far.

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 facility. A taxi driver only has to pay 10 percent of the cost upfront.

Tenzin Dorji, another taxi driver, is also among those who waited for more than three years for the arrival of EV.

He said that the loan from Bank of Bhutan was expected to be released today and that he was looking forward to driving his EV by the end of this week. “A long wait for three years was not easy with many people discouraging me.”

The EV project aims to replace 300 taxis by the end of this year

He said that it was encouraging to see the government taking initiative to install charging stations across the country by end of this year. However, he is not worried about the coverage of charging stations. “There is electricity in every part of the country and as long as there is electricity at homes, charging the car is not a problem.”

“Our small contribution in switching to EV will help reduce import of fossil fuel and electrical bill for charging EV would remain in the country,” Tenzin Dorji said.

Sonam Dendup said that he switched to EV taxi because he wanted to save more of his income. “The earning from fossil taxi is good but I cannot save much because half of the money is spent on fuel.”

He said that he could also save extra money on maintenance compared to a fossil fuel car. “With the rising fuel cost, EV is more profitable.”

Bhim Bahadur Gurung is going to become a new taxi driver in Trongsa. He waited for eight months for the delivery.

He said that he was exploring the EV market and wanted to open an EV rental shop one day. “To gain experience, I took the opportunity to place an order.”

Bhim Bahadur Gurung said that it was very important for after-sales services from the company so that people did not lose confidence in new technology and for people to gain trust. “ Taxi drivers have group chat of after-sales services with Kuenphen Motors and the officials have been very responsive and supportive to our enquiries even in odd hours or holidays.”

Kuenphen Motors in collaboration with EV project, UNDP and Bank of Bhutan is conducting delivery and promotional event of EV at Changlingmithang till May 11 for both interested private customers and taxi drivers.

During the launch, 13 more customers placed orders with Kuenphen Motors to procure an electric taxi.

Jigme Thinley, a taxi driver, has placed an order for EV during the event. He said that he enquired with his friends and found out that driving an electric vehicle would be more beneficial than driving a fossil car. “ With government’s support and vehicle dealer’s offers I am encouraged to buy an EV.”

During the promotional event, Kuenphen Motors is going to offer Nu 50,000 special discount, Nu 15,000 worth of free accessories, and free yellow paint for the taxis worth Nu 3,500.

Kuenphen Motors also provides free insurance for a year, free registration, taxi light and a discount on after-sales spares and services.