Many countries have set a deadline for a complete ban on traditional autos, some as early as 2030. In preparation for the ban on petrol and diesel cars in 2030, a driving school in the UK has urged the government to update the Highway Code. And it is inducting in its fleet Peugeot e-208 hatchback and e-28 SUV, and Vauxhall Corsa-e electric hatchback to help the drivers transition smoothly from petrol and diesel cars to electric and hybrids.
When will the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal crossover from fossil fuel to electric vehicles completely? Some of us think that it was 2030 or so? Or is it going the Nepali way, meaning only God knows when? As one of the most vulnerable countries to the dangers of global warming, Nepal has no option but to follow the lead of nations such as the UK.
We do not want to end up like another MCC, do we? We do not want to get stuck in the quagmire of our indecision at the eleventh hour.
Apart from the transition to electric vehicles, Nepal must do a lot more, including but not limited to halting deforestation and barbaric urbanisation.
Phasing out fuel-driven vehicles should help pollution control but will not be enough.
When will the government ask the traders to stop importing petrol and diesel vehicles? Since we do not manufacture any autos, we could do this at short notice, but as our traders are like the government, it will be better to notify them of the ban at least half a decade in advance.
Consumers should also know about it to stop them from buying traditional auto.
We can also learn a lot about revenue generation from the negotiations that are going on between Tesla and the Indian government. Tesla, which is keen to test the water for EVs in the Indian market, wants to import vehicles at levies lower than the customary 100 per cent. India wants a commitment from Tesla to purchase at least $500 million worth of auto components from the country for any cut on import duties to be considered.
What can Nepal learn from the above? There is not much in import duties as we charge 240 per cent, 140 per cent higher than India’s. Can Nepal approach Tesla’s Elon Musk to start a production line here for parts if not for the EVs in toto? Perhaps we should send an invite to the Tesla boss to test the Himalayan water for a boutique production unit in the country. As a gesture of goodwill, we should offer a lower import duty for Tesla. Since we will be transitioning to EVs, we might as well get the best.
The government might lose out on revenues but can make up for the loss from a jump in imports or by sending out more migrant labor to countries like Japan.
A version of this article appears in the print on February 21, 2022, of The Himalayan Times.