E-Mobility transition in Nepal: Why and When?

Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal, is the most densely populated city and is also the largest city of Nepal in terms of area. When we refer Kathmandu it also refers to two main cities of Nepal that is adjacent to Kathmandu i.e. Lalitpur and Bhaktapur. [1] Kathmandu is the valley located at an elevation of approximately 1,400 metres above sea level in Central Nepal. Kathmandu valley consist of 3 cities namely Lalitpur, Kathmandu and Bhaktapur and have highest population densities in the country [1]. Kathmandu comes under Bagamti zone and most vehicles (around 80%) registered in Bagmati zones runs within Kathmandu valley. 

Total number of vehicles registered in Bagmati zone in Fiscal Year 2016/17 was 119,956 [2] and this number is increasing every year which is validated by data below.[2] On comparing number of cars registered in last 3 Fiscal year as per above data number of car users are increasing every year. Because of which city have to face many issues such as bad air quality, dusty environment, congestion, road accidents etc.

Air pollution is a major issue in Kathmandu. According to the 2016 World Health Organization's Ambient Air Pollution Database, the annual average PM2.5 concentration in 2013 was 49 μg/m3, which is 4.9 times higher than recommended by the World Health Organization for annual average PM2.5. Starting in early 2017, the Nepali Government and US Embassy have monitored and publicly share real-time air quality data. [3] [4]

Here in this article I am going to put my view points and recommendations to solve the problem related to bad air quality, congestion in main roads, noise pollution, energy shortage, and fuel shortage from 3 points of view namely viz. technology, business and policy.

How we can create better transport system by adapting e-mobility system, what are challenges in its adaptation and how electric cars can re-shape living standards of Kathmandu valley. These are few question I will try to answer in this article. 

There is no doubt that air quality in Kathmandu is getting worse, traffic congestion is increasing every year, there is fuel shortage, and energy shortage that citizens are facing every year.Solution to above problem is transition to electric mobility system. Though transition is challenging but sooner we start better it is for us. Nepal do not have manufacturing plant of any vehicle in-house except few companies have started assembly plant of Electric vehicles like electric auto rickshaw, electric car and electric tuk-tuk. Few year back Golcha Organization has also setup Bajaj motorcycle assembly plant in Nepal. So we as a country are not technologically advance in automobile manufacturing. As per my research, almost 98% of vehicles that run in Nepali road are imported from India. So, we are highly dependent in automobile companies in India for our mobility. As per my analysis, major players in Nepal in sector of automobiles (cars and jeep) are Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai, Honda etc. So we are dependent upon technological advancement of those companies. But on contrary the question is: Are we ready for electric mobility transition? Just importing electric vehicle would be enough? Well in this article I will try to answer these questions as well.Electric vehicle is simpler technology than that of IC engines with much higher efficiency, have zero tail pipe emission and provide much flexibility. Electric vehicle uses electric drive train to drive the vehicle. Today’s EV have about 70% efficiency with load even in its worst scenario in comparison to IC engines which has efficiency of only about 20 to 30%. Moreover, combustion engine has 2500 parts and is designed for 10000 hrs of operation whereas Electric motors have only 3 moving parts and is designed for 50,000 hrs of operation thus maintenance requirement for EVs are almost zero in comparison to ICE vehicles.We could have autonomous transport system with electric vehicles. This would avoid unnecessary congestions and accidents in road.Main fuel source of EV is electricity which can be generated via solar panel, wind turbines hydro-power plant, thermal power plant, nuclear power plant etc. Sustainability and feasibility of EV also depend on how electricity is generated for running EVs. Electricity from renewable energy can make EV zero emission and zero energy vehicle. Nepal is fortunate to have huge potential of hydro-power from running water (est. that rivers in Nepal have capability of producing 84000 MW of electricity). Because of this, EV is really the boon for our country thus this will lead to zero emission transport system.On the basis of power source to drive train, EVs can be classified into Battery powered EVs which is charged directly via charger and Fuel Cell EV which generates electricity from hydrogen; hydrogen is produced generally using hydro electrolysis. Hydrogen Fuel Cell EV can provide longer drive range per refuel and refueling can be as fast as refueling petrol, also fuel cell have longer life than batteries but the technology is costlier than battery EVs. So, from technological point of view the electric mobility solution is far superior than ICE vehicles in many terms. Technology itself is so simple that Nepal could start its own in-house production of EVs with technological tie-ups with other companies. As it does not have engine so it do not vibrate and generate noise pollution. In-house production and assembly of electric vehicles could generate employment opportunity for million people. Many engineering student are settling down in other developed country for better opportunity and growth. In-house production can utilize brilliant minds of the country for its development and would provide better opportunity to aspiring minds of this country.Moreover, billion dollars are going out of the country to bring in fuels for vehicles and vehicles itself. Electric mobility system will resolve above problem as well. On other side, though EV is expensive in India and china than ICEV but in case of Nepal EV cost less than ICEV due to heavy custom duty (as high as 225% of purchase value) in ICEV whereas in EV its just 10% custom duty. This can be huge advantage in terms of price of EV.

Government of Nepal has also exempted yearly road tax in EVs. Maintenance and running cost of EV is very low in comparison to today’s ICE vehicles. Electric mobility system can provide benefits of six zeroes namely Zero Emission, Zero Energy, Zero Congestion, Zero Accident, Zero Empty and Zero Cost. So we can see that EV is very lucrative from business point of view. It will create new employment opportunity, could save billion dollar of the country's capital going out and can make transport business more profitable without putting extra burden in the peoples budget. There are few players in the market but due to lack of necessary infrastructure, better technology, capital investment and government intervention EV’s adaption is not satisfactory. Though government have provided tax levitation in EV but it is not enough. Government of Nepal has not come with attractive and strong program and policies to make faster adaptation of E-mobility system in Nepal. Its high time as now Nepal have stable and strong government after long time of instability and internal conflict. Now is the time government should intervene with strong and lucrative policies to make faster transition from ICE vehicle system to E-mobility system as its not going to happen over night. But this will ensure that cities will have cleaner air, better transport management and accessible transport for everyone. Every household could have privilege of owing their own electric cars.

Although electric mobility system looks very lucrative proposal there are challenges that will come along with it. Such as:

1.      Road is full of ICE vehicles and people have already invested million dollar in it.

2.      People have already invested million dollar in petrol pumps.

3.      There is no proper charging and fueling infrastructure in the city.

4.      Big automotive players of Nepal haven’t come out with Electric mobility solution yet.

5.      With increasing number of electric vehicles, battery deposition could be another environmental issue.

6.      Our current grid and electric distribution system is not sufficient to support e-mobility transition.

There is no doubt that transition to electric mobility system is the only way to make our future better, only question is how we will deal with it and when.

There is solution to every problem, this is what I believe. Here are few solutions to above problem I suggest:

1.      ICE vehicles can be transformed into EV by replacing engine drive train with electric drive train. Thus upfront cost will reduce and so does ownership cost.

2.      With certain financial support from government Petrol pumps can act as EV charging and refueling stations.

3.      Private Public partnership for building public infrastructure will speed up the process.

4.      With lucrative policies big automotive players will intervene in EV market.

5.      Battery can be recycled and can be used for domestic use.

6.      Smart charging system and grid modification will gradually reduce the load in the grid.


[1]  "Introduction". Kathmandu Metropolitan City, Government of Nepal. Retrieved 12 December 2009.

[2] (Bagmati Zone) Details of Registration of Transport up to Fiscal Year 2046/47-073/74 published by Ministry of Physical Infrastructure & Transport, Department of Transport Management

[3] "Pollution". www.pollution.gov.np. Archived from the original on 6 April 2017. Retrieved 4 April 2017.

[4]Ambient (outdoor) air quality and health". World Health Organization. Retrieved 2017-04-04.


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