All e-taxis can charge their cars for free at the dealer’s showroom until the five quick chargers are installed

E-Taxi: An agreement has been reached to settle months of disagreement between e-taxi drivers and the dealer of electric vehicle, Thunder Motors.

The five e-taxi drivers in Thimphu and the proprietor of Thunder Motors (Dr) Tashi Wangchuk signed the agreement on June 23, after Thunder Motors agreed to install five quick chargers soon.

Until the five quick chargers are up, all e-taxi drivers have agreed to use the charger installed at the basement of Thunder Motors showroom in Changbangdu, for free.

Representing the e-taxi drivers, Kencho Tshering, who bought the first e-taxi, said they happily signed the agreement and that they believe (Dr) Tashi Wangchuk’s words on installing quick chargers soon.

He explained that if they were to sell their e-taxis to the dealer, they would get back less amount of money, as per the dealer’s buy-back terms and conditions.

“After a rough calculation made us realise that keeping the e-taxi and making the most out of it would be profitable than selling it back to the dealers,” he said. “Had it not been the mileage issue, e-taxi is way better than petrol cars and we never denied this fact.”

Kencho Tshering added that on August 11, it would be a year since he drove the electric taxi. The only maintenance he carried out was replacement of a tyre, unlike weekly maintenance he had to do for his previous petrol taxi.

On May 26, the six e-taxi drivers submitted a petition to the Prime Minister saying that they were cheated on the mileage of the second hand electric vehicles. Cabbies demanded a full refund from the dealer or replacement of battery so that it ran 175kms after a full charge, as promised.

According to the petition, the battery lasted between 50-80km only.

In a meeting with the drivers on June 19, Lyonchoen Tshering Tobgay had assured them that he would find buyers for their second hand e-taxi.

Early this month the dealer had agreed to buy back the e-taxis and refund the drivers but with certain terms and conditions.

Some of the terms and conditions were that the vehicle would be depreciated at the rate of 10 percent from the sale price; 5 percent ownership transfer fee to be retained, vehicle ownership transfer authorisation to be provided to the dealer at the time of handing over the e-taxis and the vehicle be handed over as taxis to the dealer along with transfer of taxi registration.

Another condition the drivers had to agree to was that they maintain full confidentiality about the deal with the media.

The proprietor of Thunder Motors, (Dr) Tashi Wangchuk said that quick chargers would be installed as soon as land is acquired.

“Remaining five quick chargers should be installed in another few months,” he said. “Meanwhile, taxi driver can charge at the showroom free of cost.” The chargers have already been bought.

In an earlier interview, (Dr) Tashi Wangchuk, said that installation of each quick charger would cost Nu 3.2M, which is turning out to be expensive for the dealer.

He had also said that Thunder Motors has stopped importing second hand electric cars following the criticism it received so far.

Meanwhile, the government, through an assessment, has found the need to install charges at a distance of every 50km. It is targeted that at least 150 quick charging points be installed across the country.

By Nirmala Pokhrel