Electric Vehicle in Kathmandu Nepal

Increased number of the diesel vehicles in the street of Kathmandu is the major cause of the air pollution. However urbanization, industrialization and the congested roads are also the causes of the air pollution. Use of zero emission vehicles can combat the air pollution in Kathmandu valley. In context of Kathmandu valley, electric vehicles are the most suitable and proven means of transportation.

History of EV in Kathmandu Valley:
1975 – Trolley bus system was introduced by Chinese government along 13km route between Tripureshowr and Surya Binayak.
1989 – Fuel crisis took place as a result of trade embargo imposed by India.
1992 – The Electric Vehicle Development Group converted an old car into an EV in 1992.
1993 – The Global Research Institute with assistance from USAID, converted 7 diesels operated three wheelers in EVs, and operated successfully as a public vehicle for six months.
1996 – A group of Nepali professionals and entrepreneurs bought the 7 EVs and started the first EV company in Kathmandu.
2001 – Trolley bus was closed down.

Advantages of EV

  1. Zero emission thus less pollution
  2. Low noise level
  3. Short distances & low speed – thus appropriate for Kathmandu where streets are narrow, traffic speed is low and travel distances are short
  4. Promotes the use of clean energy (hydro-electricity) thus reduces the use of fossil fuel.
  5. Uses off peak hour electricity since battery are charged during nights.
  6. Local industry - creates employment for local people.
  7. Attract tourists.
  8. Revenue source for government from the sale of electricity.

SAFA Tempo - Three Wheeler Electric Vehicle
SAFA is a Nepali word for clean. Here SAFA tempos are the first electric vehicles in Kathmandu. It was brought to Nepal in 1996 at first. Currently there are more than 600 SAFA tempos in Kathmandu valley alone. Around 120,000 passengers benefit from the service provided by the SAFA tempo in 17 different routes within the city, on a daily basis. The EV industry in Nepal consists


Five manufacturers
     Nepal Electric Vehicle Industry (NEVI)
     Electric Vehicle Company (EVCO)
     Green Electric Vehicle (GREV),
     Green Valley and
     Bagmati Electricals.
Thirty Seven Charging Stations and
Several hundreds of vehicle owners

Figure: Safa Tempo

Cost Breakdown of Safa Tempo

Motor controller
Trojan 125 Batteries (2 sets)
  Rs. 150,000
Rs. 50,000
Rs. 40,000
Rs. 140,000
Rs. 10,000
Total Manufacturing cost
  Rs. 470,000 to 480,000
Market Price
  Rs. 535,000

More than NRs. 450 million has been invested in this industry by the private sector. The higher operating cost of the electric vehicles (NRs. 11.62/km) in comparison with the Liquid Petroleum Gas operated three wheelers (NRs. 6.17/km) and petrol vehicles (7.06/km) have made the entrepreneurs difficult to survive. The high tariff rate and the high cost of battery are the main reasons of its high cost. Despite of the high cost of the SAFA tempo the Kathmandu valley provides technical feasibility for the promotion of these vehicles. A study has shown that the present electricity generation capacity is enough to charge 70 thousand electric vehicles [1].

Around 100,000 passengers benefit from the service provided by three-wheel SAFA tempos on a daily basis. Kathmandu perhaps has more number of battery-powered commuter electric vehicles than any other urban centers in the world.

The EV drivers get NRs.4,000 to NRs.5, 000/month. The tempo owners need NRs.6000 – 7000 per months for charging and NRs.10, 000/month for depreciation of the batteries.

When the batteries are new, the SAFA Tempos can get a range of 70 or more kms. But, due to the aging, the capacity of the battery is reduced and the SAFA Tempo can cover only about 55 kms. Many owners cannot afford to buy new batteries and the suppliers are giving a warranty period of only 6 months. It is said that about 50 to 60 SAFA tempos are grounded, since the owners cannot afford to buy new batteries.

Trolley Bus
After over 25 years of operation the trolley bus has to be closed down in 18 December 2001 due to the mismanagement, over staffing, political interference and low employee morale. It was providing services to about 88% of the people traveling between Bhaktapur and Kathmandu and it was making substantial profits till 1990.

Electric trolley bus in the street of Kathmandu
Winrock International had made a study in 1999 to evaluate the feasibility of the expansion of the trolley bus around the ring road. The study concludes that with a little support from the government the system would be feasible.

Technical Aspects of EV:
The driving component of an EV is a DC motor with variable speed and power. In SAFA tempo twelve deep cycle batteries each being a 6V (total 72V) is used to provide the traction power to the vehicle. An electronic controller is used to govern the regime based on which the DC motor operates at variable speed and variable power. The components of the EV are imported and assembled here in Nepal. The main body part and the chassis are imported from India whereas the electronic components are imported from US. The parts that are imported from US are:
            fuel gauge
            connector contact
            carbon brush etc.

The chassis of the SAFA can withstand the weight of 12 people along with one set of batteries. The gross weight of SAFA tempo is 1000kg. Two sets of batteries are required for the commercial operation of EVs. A battery charging and exchange stations is also required along the route.

Government Policies for EVs
Government policies are contradictory however it seems favorable in general. The trolley bus system was never expanded though the expansion of the trolley bus system has been mentioned in all Five Year plans since 6th plan.

New registration of the SAFA tempos in Kathmandu has been stopped even though it has been mentioned that environmentally-friendly electric vehicles will be promoted in the National Transport Policy, 2058. Instead hundreds of diesel vehicles and other vehicles continues o be added everyday. Government is also creating unnecessary problem to private entrepreneurs who are willing o introduce four wheeler EVs.

The government does not charge any Value Added Tax (VAT) and only one percent custom duty for import of SAFA Tempo's chassis, engine, motor, battery, and battery charger. Similarly electric vehicles are not required to pay annual vehicle tax. Imposition of 10% VAT on locally manufactured EV is still a matter of dispute between entrepreneurs and the Government (Department of Revenue)

The Ministry of Population and Environment (MoPE), with the assistance of DANIDA has established a Clean Vehicle Fund, under a project to support the EV sector, to support R&D and promotion of EVs. In the past, MoPE with the support of DANIDA also provided some easy loan plans (up to 70%) to establish two battery charging stations in Lalitpur and to procure 48 EVs for private owners.

Future Trend
In the future we can expect to see expansion of the trolley bus system, new types of EVs and improved batteries, provided that the government supports the development of this industry.

An NGO named Himalayan Light Foundation (HLF) in collaboration with Lotus Energy has recently modified a milk float from the UK to make a new electric-bus. According to the manufacturers, the electro-bus has a capacity to carry 18-22 passengers (2500kg) and runs on a 72 volt dc heavy duty deep cycle battery comprised of 36 pieces of 2 volt cells. The electro-bus has a 600-amp sepex controller (much bigger than safa tempo) and this allows for regenerative braking (which means the motor becomes a generator when the brakes are applied). The motor is a locally re-fabricated morris motor of approximately 18-horse power. The vehicles can go at a speed of approximately 45 km/hr but reaches this speed faster than a Safa Tempo. Currently HLF has manufactured one Electro Bus, and plans to make three more if the government allows them to do so. Although the Electro Bus has been ready for more than six months, the government has not yet given permission to HLF to operate the Electro-Bus on a trial basis.

A private company has also initiated the process of importing electric cars called "Reva" from India. According to manufacturers, the car has a range of 80 km (fully loaded) per charge and has a running cost of Rs. 1 per km. The cars are currently stuck at the customs due to lack of government support.

In the future, there are also possibilities for introducing electric motorcycles and cycles in Kathmandu. Hybrid vehicles (both diesel/petrol and electricity operated) are also possibilities in the future. With improvements vehicle and battery technologies, it is expected that electric vehicles will be cheaper and more popular in the future.

The Way Ahead
Electric vehicles are one of the most suitable means of transportation for Kathmandu Valley. With a little bit of government support the EV industry can flourish and become a model for clean urban transportation. CEN urges the government to take the following steps to promote EVs in Kathmandu:

  1. Revive the trolley bus between Tripureshwor and Suryabinayak in partnership with the private sector.
  2. Construct the necessary infrastructure to expand the trolley bus system around Ring Road.
  3. Reduce night time tariff on electricity.
  4. Provide special routes to EVs.
  5. Reduce custom duty and other tax on EVs.
  6. Support research and development in the field of EVs.

Organization in Electric Vehicles

Electric Vehicle Association of Nepal (EVAN))

Contact: H. N. Manandhar, 15 Kumar Marg, Anamnagar, Kathmandu;
Phone: 440088
E-mail: evan@wlink.com.np

Environment Sector Program Support (ESPS)
Contact: Mikael Malinovsky, Technical Advisor, Ministry of Population and Environment, Singha Durbar,
Kathmandu; Phone: 268263,
e-mail: info@espsmope.com.np

Winrock International's Renewable Energy Program Support Office, REPSO/Nepal
Contact: Bikash Pandey, Country Representative, P.O. Box 1312, Baneshwor, Kathmandu.
Phone: 4476101,
email: bpandey@mos.com.np

Kathmandu Electric Vehicle Alliance
Contact: Bibek Chapagain, New Baneshwor, Kathmandu
Phone: 4467087,
Email: bchapagain@winrock.org.np
Website: www.keva.org.np

Martin Chautari.

Contact: Bimal Aryal,
Phone: 240059,
email: chautari@mos.com.np

Himalayan Light Foundation.
Contact: Sapana Shakya, President, P.O. Box 12191, Baluwatar, Kathmandu.
Phone: 425393,
email: sapana@hlf.org.np,
web site: www.hlf.org.np


CEMAT 2002: Study for Revival of Kathmandu-Suryabinyak Trolley Bus System, Winrock International, Kathamndu, Nepal.

Markus Eisenring, 2000, Assistance to the Electrical Vehicle Sector in Nepal (Report submitted to Swiss Development Corporation, SDC), Kathmandu, Nepal

Martin Chautari 1999: Bottlenecks in the Proliferation of Electric Vehicles in Nepal (Report Submitted to REPSO/Winrock International, Nepal), Kathamndu, Nepal.

CEN, 2002, “Fact Sheet on Electric Vehicles in Kathmandu” Clean Energy Nepal, Kathmandu.