Owning a luxury automobile, unlike others is definitely something that's going to attract plenty of attention. Cars are essential in the modern world, and luxury cars are something that will make you stand out in this modern age. Nepal has its fair share of luxury vehicles which everyone dreams of owning, like Tesla, Mercedes, BMW, Jaguars and so on. Car enthusiasts collect these amazing cars to create a collection unique to their own taste. It's an expensive hobby that not many can afford, but it is a hobby that most people can appreciate. 

A few car enthusiasts talk about their passion for their luxury automobiles.

Sonaal Rokka is the Executive Director of SEL Enterprises Group which is a leading name when it comes to sanitary ware, tiles, faucets, fittings, furnishing fabrics and allied products in the country. The group deals with brands like Somany Ceramics, Hindware, HSIL India, Jaquar, Cotto, TOTO, TAU Ceramica Spain, Apollo, Grohe etc. in Nepal. Sonaal is handling various ongoing and upcoming projects in terms of hospitality and construction of the group. The group is slowly planning to expand to home and office automation, residential, commercial, hotel & apartments, cement and automobile, energy and infrastructure.
Sonaal thinks travelling is what made his love for cars grow. “When I was in Singapore, I took a 7 month expert driving course where I learned to drift, driving various super cars like Lamborghini, Audi R8, Ferrari, etc. professionally,” he recalls. An outgoing personality who’s always upfront when it comes to helping others, Rokka has been into cars for years now.

How did your love for cars begin and which was the first car you drove?
My love for cars dates back to my childhood days when I saw my father’s passion for driving different cars and got excited over them. Witnessing my dad’s excitement while driving these machines was what really got me interested in wheels. I remember making my driver let me drive the car back home from school and making him promise not to tell anyone about that. This is how I learned to drive cars. The first car I drove was a Mitsubishi Pajero.

Any memorable incident with your family/friends when you took them out for a drive?
One incident worth remembering would be when I was living in the States and just a night before flying back to Nepal, my friend decided to take me to a party in Austin, Texas. I was so engrossed in taking Insta stories in my Mercedes Benz at the time that I ran over a red light downtown and didn't even realize it. I'm not proud of it but that's definitely worth remembering. Till this date, we repost the same Insta story on each other’s birthday of that incident. 

What are you driving now?
I am driving a Tesla model 3 and a Mitsubishi Outlander at the moment. The Tesla is mostly for inside the valley and weekends and the Outlander is mostly when I travel outside the valley and on rougher roads.

What is that one feature in your current vehicle that you love the most?
Apart from the full automation and some interactive features, I do love the pet mode in my Tesla because it’s much easier to travel with my dog without worrying about where to keep him safely and comfortably when I’m out and about. I'm also really into the speed and stealth of my car. It reaches 0 to 60 in 3.1 seconds so you can only imagine where I get to with minutes to spare. 

Any particular incident/ moment with your car that’s worth remembering?
When I first bought the Tesla and was driving back home, I still remember the amount of attention that it drew. People were stopping me and asking to take pictures of my car to even some people asking for selfies. I also saw random videos of my car online. I remember once a kid came all the way from Dharan to Kathmandu just to be able to see a Tesla in real life. He said he was a big fan of Elon Musk and he even waited outside my office for a picture. I let him take a lot of pictures and even took him for a short drive. The look on his face was priceless and made me remember the days when I would also be awestruck looking at beautiful cars being driven around. In fact, I still have those moments every once in a while and that's what makes the child in me come alive.

Why do you think investing in a luxury vehicle makes a difference?
Investing in luxury cars isn't a necessity but rather a passion for me. I also really appreciate the fact that with the price tag and the brand name also comes high quality and the feel of the car. The features will always be top notch and whatever it comes with, I am well assured that it is of the highest value. 

What were some of the previous luxury vehicles that you owned?
The first car I owned was a Skoda VRS and of course given my love of flashy colors, it was in yellow and was an eye-catching sedan. It was quite a fast car for its time. The second car I owned was a BMW 5 series which I used to drive during my high school days. I drove a rented Mini Cooper in Dubai and owned a Mercedes c63 when I lived in the States briefly. I have had a few different cars in Nepal which were Hyundai Tucson, VW Passat, VW Tourage etc.

Which is your longest journey that you’ve taken on wheels and why is it so special?
In the USA, I decided to drive my Mercedes rather than transporting it while moving from one city to another. It was an 18 hr drive and more than 1000 miles driving alone. It was special for me since I had just made the decision to move to the States and live on my own and it gave me a lot of time for self-reflection while doing something that put my mind off the edge. It was very peaceful and it really felt like I was in a state of meditation. The anxiety and nervousness I had been feeling with the new change lessened a lot and I did a lot of my planning and self-counseling during that long ride where I was totally alone but strangely not feeling lonely at all.

Your favorite celluloid?
It’s always been BBC Top Gear. 

What’s your opinion about EVs?
EV is the future, because we start to notice the damage that has been done to the environment because of car emissions and its consumption of non-renewable resources. Even wars have been waged for this ever-scarce resource and it is only getting scarcer by the day. So it is absolutely important that we are able to successfully make that switch from fuel cars to EV and get acclimated and adapted to it before that time finally arrives. It relies on a fully renewable energy thus there is no fear of running out of it as long as that energy is generated through ethical and eco-friendly methods.

What do you think of Nepal as the luxury cars market? How do you think Nepal can improve the luxury vehicle market?
The price of cars, luxury and commercial are insanely high compared to their actual prices in other countries. I am very happy and grateful that I am able to own a few, however, I would have been able to own a lot more at the same price point had it not been for the extremely high tax rates. Not to mention, the costly maintenance charges and the longest waiting list or even unavailability of spare parts and minimal number of service centers here.

Cars on your wish list?
Owning Tesla was always a dream, especially in the country like Nepal and India where it’s still not launched officially. After driving Tesla you would never want to give up on one. I would love to own a Tesla S plaid. Next, I am definitely replacing my current SUV with the new Land Rover Defender soon.

Saisab Lal Shrestha , MD of Nagoya Motors Nepal ( Mitsubishi Pokhara) , European Motor Werks ( Car parts, repairs and modification for European vehicles which was opened to carry out his passion in automobiles) and online news portal nepalpress.com, is an entrepreneur/business man who loves to invests in cars. Saisab is making his way into the political scene through youth politics in RPP and is soon launching a celluloid inspired by shows like Top Gear and The Grand Tour called The Himalayan Gears by Nepal Press which will be a show targeted to the young and the old with no age boundaries. 

"Luxury cars are not bought to show off, they are a mile stone for people to overcome and take their next step. That is why a person without a dream is a person lost in the derby of life."

How did your love for cars begin and which was the first car you drove?
My first love was my dad's Mercedes E class 250D. The car and I shared the same birth year. I used to have my most meals in that vehicle only. I guess that’s what they call a first love (laughs). When I was around three years old, my dad sold the vehicle. This was in the year 1993. As it was my first love, I searched for it for four years from 2013 until I found it. I bought it instantly on the spot without negotiating; it's still in my collection.
I started driving when I was 8 years old, in my dad's Mitsubishi Pajero 3 door.

Any memorable incident with your family or anyone else when you took them out for a drive? 
I enjoy driving alone most of the time because it's less worrisome as I get to do as I please. I’ve had multiple moments where I just take my car out in the middle of the night to go for a drive. It just relaxes me and connects me with the world when I'm driving alone.

What are you driving now? 
I personally drive a Mercedes S class and a Range Rover Vogue currently. I have a belief stating bigger the better. One has a 3.8l v6 petrol engine and the other has a 3.7l v8 Diesel. I just love big engines, I could never settle for mid-sized engines. I also have a Mitsubishi L200 for highways and off-road expeditions.

What is that one feature in your current vehicle that you love the most? 
It's mainly the sports mode which makes it more exciting to drive around in my Mercedes. Drifting and stunts are really a joy in it with the sports mode. 

Why do you think investing in a luxury vehicle makes a difference? 
 Luxury cars are a symbol of status these days but for me it's my passion for cars and I use them for the safety of me and my family.

What are some of the previous luxury vehicles that you’ve owned? 
I bought my first car with my own money when I was 20 years old from a land deal commission. It was a Nissan Cefiro which cost me 38 Lacs that time. After that a Mercedes e350, Mitsubishi Pajero, VolkswagenTouareg, Mitsubishi L200 and the list goes on. 

Which is your longest journey that you’ve undertaken on your wheels and why is it so special? 
Longest journey has to be when I drove to Nepalgunj straight, staying there for two hours and came back to Kathmandu. It was nearly 1300 km and more than 24 hr without any sleep. And all that in a Mitsubishi Pajero 1993 model.

Your favourite celluloid? 
Top Gear was an all time favorite and now The Grand Tour has come alongside or even above it.

What’s your opinion about EVs? 
EV’s are definitely an amazing work of machinery. There's no doubt about it, but in my opinion the future truly lies in hydrogen cars.

What do you think of Nepal as the luxury cars market? 
The market for luxury cars in Nepal is quite niche due to the high taxation for importing vehicles.

How do you think Nepal can improve the luxury vehicle market?
I think right now improving the luxury vehicle market can only be done once we try to improve our nation's economic status. As you know, luxury follows money.

Cars on your wish list?
Mercedes Maybach GLS600. 

Atish Man Amatya, a contractor by profession, is a businessman currently running four different businesses, who started his business career at the age of 16 by joining his cousin's business. Later he joined his family business at the age of 22 after working for six years with his brother. After a year or more, he started discovering new businesses and ended up establishing “Smile for Miles”, a vehicle rental business, in 2069 BS with his own car and a few cars like Ranger Pickup, Baleno, Xcent, Creta, and Figo. Currently, serving as a Managing Director for Impact Builders & Consultancy, Smile for Miles, Nine Nepal (Known as SIXT) which he recently owned a year back, 

Amatya is now stepping into the food business under his mother’s name Sarojini Foods. He has plans to expand his rental business by opening an exclusive rental which will be a next step, where people can rent luxury cars like Jaguar, Mercedes, BMW for a day. His next plan is to explore the hotel business and commercial rental business and has been working on the plan and future aspects.

"A car is just like your website or the formal pricy garb that you put on for a meeting. Your car represents you circuitously, and helps you create a good impression on the people you are about to meet. Everyone desires to associate themselves with successful people and in those terms, a luxury car does wonders in your favor."

How did your love for cars begin and which was the first car you drove?
I was never a car enthusiast as a child; my love for cars only came after I started the rental car business. When I got to see the intricacies of a car and what it takes to make and maintain it, I was amazed by how they work and what works of art they are. My first car was a Honda Jazz because my dad is a Honda lover and he insisted I buy a Honda as my first car.

What are you driving now? 
Currently, I'm riding a Jaguar XF 2016 and I've been enjoying this car. The luxury feel the brand personifies is totally incomparable. 

Any memorable incident with your family or anyone else, when you took them out for a drive? 
I think the most memorable incident was when I finally bought a car on my own. It was a Hyundai Veloster. It was a surprise for my dad and sister as they didn't expect me to buy a car on such short notice but the look on their faces was amazing.

Which is your longest journey that you’ve taken on your wheels and why is it so special?
My longest ride wasn't alone. I was with a few of my brothers and we went till Kurintar on my ride. All of us loved the fast and furious franchise and were making jokes about being in the movie along the way.

What’s your opinion about EVs? 
EV has been a game changer for Nepal and change is what we need. I too am planning to buy an EV car for myself and my company. The COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult for us to function at a normal rate currently. My company is slowly planning for Tata Nexon EV, Tigor & BYD if everything gets back to normal. 

What do you think of Nepal as the luxury cars market? 
Luxury vehicles are the next thing for Nepal even though they have a limited scope in the country. People are slowly going for luxury vehicles and the market for it is slowly expanding. Brands like BMW, Mercedes, Land Rover, Peugeot, Jeep Wrangler, Jaguar, Audi, Lexus, Tesla, Ford Mustang are making their way into the Nepali market. We get to see many luxury vehicles running in the streets of Kathmandu nowadays. And I, being a proud owner of luxury cars, will love to see its market expand and grow.

Cars on your wish list?
Luxury vehicles have always been my dream and in my wish list I currently have a BMW 300i 2008 model, Mercedes C class 180, 1996 model, AVW Beetle 2011.Slowly if everything goes as planned, I want to own a BMW X7.