There are 1 million two-wheelers in Kathmandu Valley, and they make up 79% of Nepal’s total vehicle fleet. Of the total two wheelers operating across the country, only 6,000 are electric. In addition, there are nearly 15,000 motorcycle taxis (essentially three-wheelers) operating in the Tarai.
Although the contribution of motorcycles and scooters to overall greenhouse gas missions from the transport sector is only 8%, two-wheelers are a public health hazard because of their emissions of deadly carbon monoxide and other toxic gases.
If Nepal is to clean up its air and reduce petroleum imports, the lowest hanging fruit is the electrification of two-wheelers. China has already stopped producing petrol two-wheelers, and India is expected to follow suit. Nepal is going against its own Nationally Determined Commitment (NDC) to lower carbon emission by allowing a new assembly plant for two-wheelers and giving it a tax break (see main story, above).
Battery powered 2-wheelers till now lacked suitable models, and the affordability of existing petrol scooters. “Most Nepalis own two-wheelers, and use them for long distances with heavy loads on Nepal’s dangerous roads,” says Lokesh Oli, who reviews electric vehicles on his YouTube channel. “The limited range and cost of electric two wheelers and the lack of charging stations made them less suitable.”
India’s e-scooter brand Pure EV partnered with White Lotus distributors in 2020 to launch its EPluto7G and ETrance NEO battery operated two-wheelers in Nepal. Both the models have a 2.5kWh lithium-ion battery that will be fully charged in 4 hours, following which the scooters will run for 90-120km. The 2.5kWh batteries come with a five-year warranty. The e-scooters are priced between Rs229,000-Rs249,000.
Chinese company NIU was the first to introduce e-scooters in Nepal. Its latest GOVA G3 is equipped with a 2,700W BOSCH Motor and a 48V lithium-ion battery that fully charges in 5 hours to give it a range of up to 90km. The GOVA G3 is priced at Rs255,000. Other NIU e-scooters available in Nepal include the NQi, MQi, and the UQim series.
Yatri Project One
In 2019, the Nepali company Yatri headed by Ashim Pandey introduced its high-end Project Zero battery-powered motorbike, the first of its kind designed and assembled in Nepal. This April, Yatri launched its second electric motorcycle Project One. It has a lithium ion-manganese oxide battery which fully charges in 3 hours and then will run for 110km. The batteries have a capacity of 3.0 kW. Project One, priced at Rs500,000, is more affordable than Project Zero.