The only downside of the Nexon with its 30.2kWH battery pack is perhaps its range which, at 312km on a full charge, is slightly less than the Kia Niro (455km) and the Hyundai Kona (482km) both of which have 64kWH batteries — but then those models cost more. Both ranges depend on AC use. Still, the Nexon’s range is more than enough to get from Kathmandu to Pokhara on a single charge even with AC.
This is what is making makes all electric vehicles financially attractive over the long term. Nepali consumers who had turned away from battery cars in the past year because of the higher taxes, will now find both the upfront cost and the energy savings will make e-vehicles much more competitive compared to fossil fuel cars.
Sipradi, the TATA distributors in Nepal have not yet announced the price of the electric Nexon, but it is suggested that it will be less than the Rs 4.9 million price tag of the petrol Nexon. This compares favourably to its nearest rival in the performance range, the smaller Mahindra eKUV which could sell for approximately Rs 4million after the tax revision.
Nepal has announced it will stop selling petroleum cars by 2031, and this is only because neighbours India and China have also announced that they will only be making electric or hydrogen-fuel cars by that time.
Other electric cars in the market include the Kia Niro which had stopped being imported after last year’s budget hike that took its price tag to a whopping Rs 12.5 million. But with the new budget revision, the price is down to Rs7 million again. Similarly, the Hyundai Kona is priced at Rs5.6-Rs7.1 million depending on the capacity, while its Iconiq electric sedan is Rs 5.7 million.
MG’s Chinese made eZS was also quite popular till the budget hike last year, with dozens of its vehicles stuck at customs because they arrived after the tax increase. The price of these SUVs compare well with the Niro and Kona at Rs 5.1 million.
The pioneer of electric vehicles in Nepal is the Mahindra e2O, and is still the most popular for city driving with a range of 120km, a ground clearance of 170mm and a price that has now come down to Rs2.6 million for the 4-door model.
Needless to say, all these are approximate, as most dealers are still in wait-and watch mode and have not announced the exact prices yet. Despite the excise and import taxes being scrapped, customers will still have to fork out 13% VAT, and the government has kept Finance Minister Yubaraj Khatiwada’s increase in road tax for electric cars.
E-vehicle owners paid no road tax from 2016 till last year’s budget. Since then, it has gone up to Rs15,000 per year for battery cars in the 50-125kW range, Rs20,000 for e-vehicles of 126-225kW and Rs30,000 for cars in the 226-and above range.
Khatiwada last year slapped excise duties on e-vehicles of 30-80% depending on their capacity, and levied customs duty of 60%. He justified it saying electric SUVs were luxury items, and the government needed to augment revenue to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.
This pushed e-vehicles out of the market at a time when sales had just started to pick up, and various brands of electric vehicles were gaining popularity because of their expanded range. But Khatiwada’s move spiked prices of electric vehicles by 120-140%, making them less competitive vis-a-vis fossil-fuel alternatives.
Finance Bishnu Paudel’s move appears to be geared to reducing the petroleum import bill, and also to increase electricity consumption as Nepal’s new hydropower plants come online this year, giving an energy surplus.