Sparking Change: The Rise of Electric Vehicles in Everyday Life

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One incredibly quiet revolution is taking place on the roads across the world: Electric Vehicles (EVs) are slowly becoming a common sight. Everywhere, from the least developed to the most developed countries, this revolution is firmly taking hold. And Nepal is not an exception. Various factors, such as technological advancement, environmental concerns, regulatory support, and infrastructure development, are driving this boom. More than one-and-a-half decades after they first hit the roads, EVs are now finally taking off on a massive scale and seem unstoppable. In the late 2000s, when they became available for purchase, they were known as luxury cars with an astronomical price tag—about USD 1,000—and companies justified the price by citing the high technology cost of building one.

But things have since changed for the better. Today, manufacturing such vehicles is not the domain of a handful of automakers based in the West or Japan. Nor are they prohibitively expensive. There are hundreds and growing numbers of automakers worldwide, especially in China, catering to the EV markets of all stripes, and the price range starts at USD 10,000. Once meant only for the elite, EVs are increasingly becoming commonplace, not only making them accessible to the average diver but also enabling their explosive growth.

Incentives

An EV has no engine as such and is wholly powered by a battery. Until a few years ago, there had been alarming cases of batteries catching fire, but manufacturers have elegantly sorted out that problem. Recent breakthrough advancements in battery technology that dramatically improved its range and performance have turbocharged its adoption rate. Production costs have also come down significantly. Chinese automakers especially deserve appreciation for fueling this welcome development. As the EV frenzy heats up in that country, even a smartphone maker like Xiaomi is making a debut in the sector with its announcement of soon-to-be-released EV models. While EV sales vary from country to country, overall, there has been a notable upward trend globally. And, as the technology becomes cheaper and cheaper, companies are increasingly focused on rolling out EVs at competitive prices. However, their prices are still higher than their counterparts with internal combustion engines (ICE). The good news, however, is that this price gap is quickly closing. Governments around the world are also taking measures to incentivize drivers to embrace EVs. While some are offering tax rebates, others are subsidising their purchases and building charging infrastructure. Europe has gone one step further by announcing the expiration date of ICE: 2035. That means that by 2035, every new vehicle to be sold in the Union must be an EV. Major automakers are investing heavily in EV development, expanding their offerings, and pledging to phase out ICE vehicles. And the ever-expanding infrastructure for EV charging stations is making electric vehicles more practical.

People are aware that the prices of gasoline and diesel are not falling anytime soon, so going for them also makes economic sense. Another major reason is the high cost of maintaining and operating ICE vehicles. Studies have shown that driving an EV is significantly cheaper—as much as 10 times cheaper in some cases—than its gasoline-powered peers. Business insiders also say that, since driving the former is easier than the latter due to in-built automatic features, EVs are catching the attention of many would-be female drivers.

Given the alarming level of pollution in the country, especially in urban settings, and burgeoning climate concerns, switching to EVs is more of an imperative than a choice. Air pollution caused by emissions from fossil-fuel-powered vehicles has emerged as a major health hazard, costing billions of rupees in health expenditure and causing the deaths of thousands annually. This emerging trend is sure to address this issue to a significant extent. Embracing this is also critical to meeting Nepal’s climate pledge of becoming a net-zero carbon emitter by 2045. The country’s challenging terrain and limited infrastructure present unique challenges for EV adoption, particularly in terms of range anxiety and access to charging stations outside urban areas. However, its commitment to reducing carbon emissions and its abundant renewable energy resources provide an environment conducive to the growth of electric mobility.

Promising future

The future of EVs looks promising, with continued advancements in battery technology, increased infrastructure for charging stations, and growing consumer interest in sustainable transportation. The case in Nepal mirrors the global trend. Over the past two years, the Nepali EV market has witnessed remarkable growth. The import of EVs jumped steeply by 158.31 per cent in the first six months of the current fiscal year, from mid-August to mid-January 2024, according to the Department of Customs. The country imported 5,107 units worth Rs. 12.73 billion. In the same period last fiscal year, it imported 1,749 units amounting to Rs. 4.92 billion. If this trend keeps pace, experts say that EVs will account for at least 90 per cent of the imported vehicles by 2030.

This swift and dramatic shift from ICE is understandable and is happening at a time when the world is ditching greenhouse-emitting fuel with urgency in favour of renewable energy and rapidly building infrastructure to harness the power of the sun, wind, or hydro. The government, on its part, should facilitate this trend at the policy level and through tax incentives. Frequently changing its EV policy and confounding prospective buyers, as it has done before, is the last thing it needs to do. As governments worldwide implement stricter emission regulations, this trend is sure to gain more momentum. Additionally, innovations in autonomous driving technology could further accelerate their adoption, making them more convenient and appealing to a broader range of consumers. Increasing the use of EVs has numerous benefits, including reducing greenhouse gases, decreasing air pollution, and lessening dependence on fossil fuels.

 

Source: The Rising Nepal