Remaining 112 EVs for BSLETS project yet to be delivered

The remaining 112 Electric Vehicles (EV) for the “Bhutan Sustainable Low Emission Transportation System” project have not yet been delivered, but the project has not been impacted by the vehicle moratorium because the advance payment was completed before the moratorium, according to the EV project manager Tshering Dhendup

With Green Bhutan in transportation as a mandate, the Bhutan Sustainable Low Emission Transportation System (BSLETS) had targeted that 300 electric vehicles (EV) would be on the roads of Bhutan to replace vehicles using fossil fuel. While critics say that with just 188 (EVs) in the country from the program, BSLETS has failed to meet its target. However, project manager of BSLETS, Tshering Dhendup, says the target has been achieved.

Tshering Dhendup, clarified that the project was completed by the end of September 2022, but that the delivery of the remaining EVs was impacted due to a variety of factors. “Everything has been done and the process was completed by September itself. The delivery has been hampered,” he said. The project manager said that the remaining 112 EVs for BSLETS is expected to reach Bhutan by the end of this year.

“China is the largest EVs manufacturer in the world, and we concurrently ordered most of the EVs for our project from China. Delivery has been delayed, because of certain limitations and China’s Zero Covid policy”, the Project Manager said.

He added that another factor for the delay is bringing the vehicles all the way from China. “When they deliver from the Malaysia port, they deliver around 800 EV in a go. As the orders we placed is less, they have to wait until there are sufficient vehicles or other goods to fill the ships used. They can’t deliver just 100 or 200 EVs in a shipment,” he said. .

When asked if the moratorium issued by the ministry of finance on August 19, 2022, on importing certain vehicles hampered the project, Tshering said it was not affected. “It did not affect us as the advance payments were already made,” he said.

The BSLETS project was started in 2019 with the aim to facilitate a low-carbon transition in urban Bhutan by encouraging the use of clean transportation (LEV). In particular, the project introduced 300 EVs as a replacement for internal combustion engine vehicles and a preferred fuel source for transportation in the urban areas.

Another element of the EV project is to build charging stations in all the 20 Dzongkhag.

“Currently, there are about 29 charging stations dispersed across seven districts and construction is ongoing in the remaining 13 districts” the project manager said.

As per the International Energy Agency (IEA), the required ratio for EV to charging stations is 1:10, and according to Tshering, “Bhutan has enough charging stations as per IEA ratio.” However, more charging stations are being constructed for the convenience of the EV users. Tshering said that EV is the future and as Bhutan is known as a carbon neutral nation and champion of the environment, it is important to encourage EV, which is environmental friendly.

Further, he said that once the vehicle moratorium is lifted, there will be more people procuring EVs. “Many people have been showing interest in buying and using it as private cars, for which the financial institutes also offer loans. And we have EV dealers from whom EVs can be directly procured,” he said.

Currently, there are about 388 EVs in Bhutan, including EVs from the BSLETS project and those owned by private by individuals and government offices.

Tshering Pelden from Thimphu