Despite rising oil prices, benefits to the environment and tax subsidies, buyers are showing little interest in buying electric scooters, dealers said.
“The government provides a 20 percent discount on the import duty and 10 percent discount on VAT, but customers are reluctant to buy battery-operated scooters as they think their performance is poor,” said Shyam S Sapkota, business head of Fair Auto, the authorized distributor for Terra Motors in Nepal. He added that e-scooter sales had swelled compared to the past, but they were lower than expected.
An electric scooter is operated by an electric motor and rechargeable battery, and has zero emission. “The cost of servicing, maintenance, mobil and spare parts is also lower besides its lower impact on the environment,” said Maaz Ashraf, marketing and communication manager of Eco Infinity, the authorized distributor of NIU e-scooters in the country. “E-scooters can deliver good performance and mileage on the roads of Nepal. NIU’s e-scooters give 70 km mileage on average.”
Terra Motors offers two models of e-scooters: Eco e-scooter based on a lead-acid battery and Acuto based on a lithium ion battery. A lithium ion battery has a long life of four to five years. The company offer the Eco e-scooter for Rs138,000 while the Acuto is priced Rs200,000. The Terra is a Japanese brand and is imported from Vietnam. It debuted in Nepal in 2014.
The Acuto is a premium scooter with a 3,000 watt motor and a speed of up to 95 km per hour. It has features such as GPS navigation system and auto remote. The company sells about 25 e-scooters per month, said Sapkota.
Terra Motors offers lifetime service on e-scooters and has 18 dealers across the country. Terra Motors has a market share of more than 25 percent in the Nepali e-scooter market, Sapkota claimed. The company has plans to build charging stations at major locations in the city.
Presently, e-scooter riders need to obtain a driving licence and observe all traffic rules strictly. Domestic e-scooter dealers make the necessary preparations. NIU has already implemented the policy while other dealers are in the process of doing so.
NIU, a Chinese e-scooter brand, started selling its e-scooters in September 2017 and has sold 100 units till date. The company sells 15 e-scooters monthly and provides financing options too. NIU offers two models of e-scooters: N1S Civic (2,400 watts) and M1 Pro (1,200 watts). The N1S Civic costs Rs235,000 while the M1 Pro costs Rs215,000. The company aims to sell 400 e-scooters in 2018.
Sapkota said that the country’s fuel import bill could be reduced significantly if the government brings mandatory policies to encourage customers to buy e-scooters. For example, the government of Province 3 is planning to run only electric vehicles within 10 years.
Terra Motors said they would have set a target to sell 10,000 units of e-scooters if the budget had focused on a favourable policy for environment-friendly vehicles. “However, we are still expecting to sell 500 e-scooters by the next fiscal year,” said Sapkota.
Bela Motors, the authorized distributor for Bela e-scooters in Nepal, also offers four models: Astro, Dolce, Duro and Gloria. These models can cover 100 km on a full charge, said Rajesh Maharjan, an official at Bela Motors. The price of Bela e-scooters is Rs130,000. According to the company, sales amount to four to five units daily.