Taxi drivers in Thimphu to set example to others by driving Electric Vehicle Taxi in the country

Around 47 taxi drivers in Thimphu have already confirmed on Electric Vehicle (EV) taxi purchase, and Ministry of Information and Communications (MoIC) has released 20 percent subsidy to them.

Based on the registered number, more than 200 taxi drivers in Thimphu have expressed their interest on buying EV taxis. MoIC has selected 90 taxi drivers and expects most of them to go for EV taxi.

The Bhutanese talked some of the taxi drivers in Thimphu who want to change their old taxis to EVs. They said the government has assured them with the guarantee and promise to install charging stations in the necessary areas so they do not have to worry about going on long tours.

According to the taxi drivers, the EVs will help them save on the fuel money and they feel good about reducing the harmful emission level and saving the environment. An average taxi driver spends around Nu 25,000 on fuel per month. With EV, they can save the fuel amount.

Nim Dorji, 43, said they have come forward because the government is supporting them or else they would have never gone for the EV taxi idea.

He said the first EV taxi left a negative impression on the taxi drivers as charging and maintenance was a problem.

Jit Bdr Rai, 35, said he usually spends Nu 500 on fuel for the local rounds in Thimphu town, but if he has an EV taxi, that Nu 500 will be saved. He spends almost Nu 15,000 on fuel in a month.

He also looks forward to reducing the pollution level with the new technology. “Some people told me that electronics does not last long and for long tour, it is a bad idea to go for it, but after attending several meetings with MoIC project manager and the dealers, they have assured us that the EV we are buying will give 800,000 to 900,000 kms. The dealers and the manager have given us the guarantee on battery and the important parts of the EV. Because of this, we believe them and hope that EV will be good choice for us,” said Jit Bdr.

He also heard from mixed reviews on EV taxi from the ones who drive the second hand EV taxis bought from Japan earlier. But this time, all the taxi drivers are showing interest to buy EV because the government is supporting and assuring them that the EV will not be the same like few years ago, he said.

Tenzin, 40, who has been driving public transport bus said when he heard about government’s project on EV for taxi drivers, he wanted to be part of it and make his living by running a taxi since government is also giving subsidy of 20 percent.

He is convinced of the assurance given on quality of EV by the government,

He said the taxi drivers can save a huge amount of money on the fuel. The only challenge would be the charging stations in every corner so that the taxi drivers do not have to worry when their battery exhausts, said Tenzin.

Nar Bdr Subba, 39, has been driving his taxi in Thimphu for 10 years.  The main reason for changing his regular taxi to EV is that he can earn a little extra.

After so many meetings with MoIC, he learnt there is a huge negative impact on the environment caused by the fossil fuel vehicles.

Tshedup Tobgay, 45, said he is not a regular taxi driver, but plans to do full time with the EV taxi that he has ordered.

Yangzom, 38, said she could never afford to buy an EV taxi. “We are very glad that the government is supporting and assuring us that the EV, which we are buying, is going to benefit us and nation on the whole, by reducing emission in the environment.”

Sangay Wangmo, 43, who has been running a taxi for almost eight years said the price of the fuel is increasing every year, and with the EV taxi, it will help ease her fuel expenses.

In order to promote EVs, UNDP and Bhutan Trust Fund have funded one unit of EV to the project management

The project manager, Phub Gyeltshen, said he has been driving EV around to promote the vehicle, and he is amazed that only 20 percent of the battery out of 100 percent is consumed when travelling from Thimphu to Phuentsholing.

I shared this with taxi drivers and they amazed to hear it, said the project manager.

Meanwhile, the six units of EV will arrive by this month, and a sample car by end of January by all the four dealers. MoIC is also planning to have an EV exhibition during the His Majesty’s Birth Anniversary when the dealers have the sample EV ready.

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