Electric Vehicles in Bhutan – More choice for the eco-friendly client
Assembled in Bhutan, these bikes and cars may be the transport face of the future
Electric Vehicles: At first sight, the electric car looks no different from a Hyundai i10, with the same design and passenger capacity; but on taking a closer look, and exploring the car, it has a different mechanism with no fuel tank but batteries in place, and with a charging outlet at the fuelling space.
There is no exhaust pipe and, in place of the engine, it has a small laptop with software that runs the vehicle, representing the high technology beneath the bonnet. The dashboard looks classic with modern features.
While running, the electric car produces no sound at all. The only sound is from the soft breeze of the air-conditioning system. With such peacefulness, most people checking the car yesterday at Olakha workshop said it provides a perfect chance to enjoy the entertainment system while driving.
Thunder Motors will launch new electric cars and motorcycles soon in Thimphu. Two electric cars worth about Nu 600,000 and 10 motorcycles – price ranging from Nu 70,000 to 90,000 – were transported from Phuentsholing to Thimphu last week.
The electric car developer and owner of Thunder Motors, Tashi Wangchuk, said he had already got orders from Thimphu City corporation and the National Environment Commission.
He added that, although the components are from Germany, Japan, United States and China, the electric vehicles are Bhutanese, since the software is locally developed and the cars assembled in Phuenstholing.
A fully charged battery can run 160km and about 45 to 60km for motorcycles. To completely charge the batteries, it takes about 5-6 hours for cars and half of that for motorcycles.
“With support from Bhutan National Bank, investment so far is Nu 30M, and there are plans to invest an additional Nu 180M for construction of a new assembling plant and 200 trained local employees,” Tashi said. “We tested the cars 32 times, and it only takes about Nu 5 worth of power to drive till Paro.”
The electric vehicles had undergone what is called the “heat test” to check the battery performance on Bhutanese roads. Because the battery is the only power supply, the heat test was crucial to ensure the vehicle functions properly in local conditions.
Thunder Motors plans to export to India, Bangladesh and Nepal.
“The car is definitely an answer to the high fuel price and proves that a battery car can be powerful and luxurious as well,” said Tshering, a businessman. However questions still abound on how buyers, who have to park by the roadside, can charge the battery.