The ongoing fuel crisis that has hampered normal life in Nepal for the past few months has probably had one positive impact. It has raised people’s awareness about alternative energy options. With the unofficial Indian blockade, Nepalis all over the country had to limit their fuel consumption and purchase fuel at highly inflated prices in the black market. However, this fuel shortage greatly impacted the mobility of everyone around Nepal. But, the smart owners of electric vehicles and bikes were largely unaffected by this crisis. The Mahindra Revas could be seen on the roads with their proud owners. But with the government’s refusal to subsidize taxes for electric cars, scooters are the other economical option in the market.
Electric scooters have been in the market for seven to eight years. However, the ones that were first imported from China were not quite suitable for the Nepali roads. Adding to the lack of maintenance centers, these electric scooters gave a bad first impression about electric scooters in Nepal. However, in the last few years, Hero Electric and V Moto have brought quality scooters to Nepal and one hopes it will change the tarnished reputation of electric scooters. With maintenance being provided by the few existing service centers and with plans to have numerous service centers, buoyed by the rise in sales, electric scooters may one day dominate this segment of the market.
However, it is hoped the surge in the demand for electric scooters will not diminish once fuel supplies are normalized. Electric scooters not only have a stable energy supply but they are also a very economical choice in terms of saving money on fuel. The cost of charging a battery for 6 to 8 hours to its full capacity is just Rs. 25 and they have a life of 18 to 24 months. Therefore, the electric scooter is a very smart choice economically and also because of the uncertainty of fuel supplies in Nepal.
Hero Electric Photon is available in the 1500 W capacity. These scooters can easily climb an incline of 15 degrees with one passenger and luggage. It is available in various colors: Vivid Burgundy, Vanilla White and Velvet Black. It can be run on two modes: the Economy mode will allow the scooter to run on full charge for 70 kilometers. The Power Mode which will maximize the acceleration and speed of the scooter gives about 50 kilometers mileage with a fully charged battery. The maximum speed of the Hero Electric is 45 km/ph.
The Hero Optima+ is the 250 W version of the Hero Electric scooter. With a speed of 25 km/ph, the Optima+ is more suited for urban use. It can run for a total of 50 km with each full charge and takes about 8 hours to get fully charged. It has the ability to climb a gradient of 9 degrees. Available in Burgundy, Milky White and Olive Black, it has an especially high pick up and acceleration feature which is helpful while driving in urban traffic. The slogan of Hero Electric could not be more accurate: ‘Easy on the Pocket, Easy Maintenance and Easy on Environment.’
The V Moto electric scooter that boasts of Italian design is one the most powerful electric scooters available in the Nepali market. With 2000 W power output, the V Moto can easily climb the slopes of the Kathmandu valley and its surroundings. The eco-friendly scooters have a chic European design and with German engineering, this electric scooter is of top quality. Unlike the Hero Electric scooters, the V Moto can climb even the steepest slopes with two passengers. The rugged design makes this scooter more suitable for the rough Nepali roads. The four models available are the V-90s, VX-90s, V5 and Bee. The V-90s and the VX-90s are equipped with a 2000 W brushless electric motor with a single swing arm rear wheel while the V5 and the Bee are powered by 800 W and 500 W brushless electric motors. All these scooters are equipped with lead acid batteries, that can be swapped with lithium batteries and can be charged from a normal house outlet. The V-90s and the VX-90s feature regenerative brake, booster and reverse functions to provide a unique riding experience. These models all have front and rear disc brakes, projector headlamps and Grip seat. The price range of these scooters is between Rs 124,000 and Rs 225,000.
With a range of electric scooters available in the market, people may slowly realize that Nepal should start moving towards the electric option keeping in mind the abundant hydroelectric potential that is available and developing in the country. The government must do its role of subsidizing or at least reducing taxes on electric vehicles. The importers should shift their focus to electric vehicles to increase the volume of electric scooters and cars on Nepali roads. This will help in the development of charging stations and maintenance centers. As for the customers, the agonizing wait in the petrol station queues should be a constant reminder to take the smart choice!