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India: Why Bhutan should promote electric vehicles

The future of cars is electric. There is no doubt about it. Unlike the earlier generations of electric cars, a new generation of nice looking, affordable, high-performance electric cars are entering the market worldwide. Governments and municipal authorities in many countries are speeding up this trend with various incentives and programs. It is surely time for Bhutan to follow suit. Presently, besides sales tax and customs duty exemption, Bhutan does not have any long-term electric vehicle policy.

According to a study by the University of California, Berkeley, “Depending on the future price of oil and the relative purchase price of internal combustion engine vehicles, electric cars are predicted to account for 64-86% of new light-vehicle sales by 2030 (in the US)”. In Bhutan, the percentage could be even higher if the government policy is made more favourable.

Here are compelling reasons why Bhutan should promote electric vehicles:

Big savings for individual car owners

The cost of running Reva electric car in Bhutan is said to be Nu. 0.40 per Km as against around Nu. 5.00 per Km for a regular car. That is about 12 times more economical than a regular car. That indicates that even for bigger electric cars, the savings will be very significant. If you spend around Nu. 4000.00 a month on fuel for your regular car, it could come down to Nu. 500.00 or less with an electric car. In terms of real energy usage, the Department of Energy’s fifteen-month trial of Reva in Bhutan shows an average of 17.89kWh/100km over the test period compared to the LandCruiser’s 150kWh/100km or more.

Bhutan’s urban landscape is ideal for electric car use

As per the Statistical Yearbook of Bhutan 2011, 89.5% of the 53,988 vehicles in the country in 2010 were registered in Thimphu and Phuentsholing. These vehicles ply mostly in major urban settlements like Thimphu, Paro and Phuentsholing which are small in area and relatively close to one another so that commutation by electric vehicles within and between these places would be practically possible. Moreover, most urban dwellers’ commutation happens within a city and long distance travel is rare. But even long distance travels within Bhutan which has east-west aerial distance of about 350 Km and north-south aerial distance of about 150 Km, would not be a problem if charging stations or battery swapping stations are located at strategic locations along the national highways.
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