E-taxi drivers and dealers reach a truce

The e-taxi driver who had sued the dealer has withdrawn the case

Transport: The electric taxi driver, Yeshey Tshering withdrew the case he had filed against Thunder Motors last week after they agreed to settle the case outside the court.

Yeshey Tshering sued Thunder Motors on September 29 for alleged breach of the agreement the car dealer drew with them on July 23.

“I’ve received Nu 200,000 about a month ago and have now withdrawn the case as I have no issue with the dealer,” Yeshey Tshering said.

On July 23, the taxi operators and the vehicle dealer signed an agreement, which stated that the drivers could keep their cars and along with it, the dealer would compensate each of them with Nu 200,000 for not meeting the mileage they expected.

It was also agreed that with this settlement, the dealer would then not have anything to do with issues of the e-taxi drivers. The agreement also had conditions on using the quick charger.

Later, the dealer gave the option to drivers to return the taxis. Yeshi Tshering disagreed with the dealer over his refund and went to court.

“We have negotiated since then and resolve amicably,” he said, satisfied with the Nu 200,000 refund he received.

Save for the lack of quick charging stations, the car has no problem, he said.

Another taxi driver, Tandin, who had returned the car to the dealer, has now decided to take back his e-taxi. “The car is fine except that I can’t go on longer journeys,” he said.

The concern now is with the lack of incentive and policy for e-cars.

“There is still confusion over the rate for electricity,” Yeshey Tshering said.

Although the Prime Minister in a meeting with the drivers earlier had told them that their quick charging at the showroom would be free, he said, it has stopped now.

“We pay Nu 100 each time we charge now,” Yeshey Tshering said adding that he charges his e-car twice a day.

Tandin said this rate was acceptable but he was not sure how much would be charged at the other charging stations.

Four JICA-funded quick charging stations on pilot are expected to begin operation later this month.

Thunder Motors also planned to establish soon a quick charging station each at Lumitsawa in Thimphu, Khuruthang in Punakha, Paro airport, Tsimasham and Gedu in Phuentsholing.

“We hope the government would help in every possible way for the dealer to set up the stations so that all e-car drivers benefit,” he said.

The three e-taxi drivers who returned their cars to the dealer are however still waiting for their new petrol cars to be delivered.

Road Safety and Transport Authority director general Lham Dorji said that his office only registered the cars.

“We told them that the effective life of the car would depend on the life of their batteries,” he said.

There are no policies to date. The Gross National Happiness Commission, he said, is drafting an overall electric vehicle policy.

Tshering Palden

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