Electric vehicles (EV) are steadily gaining ground not only around the world but in Nepal as well. It certainly doesn’t make for a rare sight on our streets anymore. However, speculation on matters of its practicality hasn’t completely been dropped yet. So The Week asked some EV users about the pros and cons of owning and using this green vehicle. Here they share their experience.
Why did you choose to purchase an electric vehicle?
There are always so many problems a car owner in Kathmandu has to face and a convenient solution for most of them, from the nightmarish traffic jams to never ending petrol lines, always seemed to be an electric vehicle.
The issue of climate change and environment problems was also a big factor that influenced my decision. I wanted to do my part to promote eco-friendly means. Honestly, if our generation doesn’t act, who will?
Many people tend to think EVs are too expensive especially considering its drawbacks. What’s your opinion?
It’s strange how fast bad words spread and also how quickly we, Nepalis, take the word for granted. The fact is an EV doesn’t cost any more than a petrol car and considering the number of hassles that you can forego after its purchase, I don’t think that’s a problem.
The cost that many people obsess about is the battery change but that will be a possibility only after three or four years. In the two years that I have been driving an EV, I haven’t had any battery problems. In fact, for me one charge is enough for three days of commute from home to work and vice versa.
So you are satisfied with your electric car’s performance?
It’s the most efficient thing that I have in my life right now. We have to be mindful that an EV is a city car and it is perfect for day-to-day commute. You can navigate through the tiny spaces and traffic in the city. Parking isn’t that big of an issue anymore. I don’t have to stress over petrol but it still provides all the conveniences of a car. It protects me from rain and shelters me from the sun. I can give lifts to my colleagues. It isn’t as cramped in there as people imagine especially if you purchase the newer models.
Why do you think people are still hesitant to purchase it?
Price is still a huge factor. If you can purchase a regular car with the same amount, people are hesitant to go for an electric one. The government here should provide subsidies so that the cost won’t be as much. I believe every Nepali should be able to own an electric car. More than anything, it will really help improve our environment and secure a better future.
What were your reasons of purchasing an EV?
I was considering the option of buying an EV for quite a long time but when we had the blockade, it became a necessity. Now I choose to drive an EV because I like the feeling of being environment friendly. I am certain that we are vulnerable to all sorts of respiratory diseases. The degradation of our air quality is palpable and incredibly frustrating. So it’s nice to help in this way. Besides, in my experience, my EV has been very practical so there is no reason to switch back to regular petrol cars.
Haven’t you come across any problems while driving your EV?
My biggest concern was electricity. Considering the load shedding hours, I wondered if it was feasible but turns out, an hour’s charge can give you up to 20 kilometers so for 100kms, five hours charge is more than enough. And five hours charge isn’t hard to manage at all.
Further, since I have a newer model, I can easily fit five people inside my EV. Four if they are slightly tall. If there have been some hiccups, it’s while driving up a steep slope. It’s not a problem when I’m alone but if there are many people or heavy load inside, I have to be extra careful. It used to really scare me at first but now I have learnt how to maneuver through these tight spots as well. It helps that the car has automatic transmission as well.
Do you think EVs will soon gain popularity among the masses?
The price of these EVs might be a factor. You can purchase a Sedan with the same amount. After a couple of years my dealer says my car’s battery change will again take around four hundred thousand rupees. So if the authorities can find subsidies for these costs that can be a big help to promote eco-friendly means. But then again, even western countries are scrambling about to encourage their public to use EVs. It will certainly take some time for Nepal to catch up as well.
Also there is the size to consider. Some of my relatives had started using EVs during the blockade as well and perhaps they would still continue using them if it weren’t for the size of the vehicle.
How has your experience of using an electric bike been so far?
I already had a petrol scooter but because of the blockade I was forced to get an electric bike as well. You don’t need a license to ride an electric bike plus it looked really nice. The cost too was slightly less than a regular scooter so, all in all, I thought it would be an investment for the family. And initially, everything was fine. Many people used to ask me about my experience then as well and I only had good things to say. Now though I’m slightly disappointed. In my experience, owing an electric bike can be a bit of a hassle.
The trouble started when I got a tire puncture. It was so difficult to find a workshop that would fix it. You need specific tools and specialty to fix an electric scooter’s tire. I had to call in an acquaintance to take my scooter to another part of the town to mend the tire.
But we see many people riding electric scooter these days?
I don’t know how other people’s experiences have been but personally, if I didn’t have an older scooter at home, I would be in trouble right now. If we are to promote these electric scooters, we also have to make sure there are more workshops that can tend to them. It would be a nightmare if the electric scooter breaks down when you are in a hurry to get somewhere. Not only is it heavier than a regular scooter, there still aren’t many spots that can fix them.