Electric vehicles (EV) will carry green number plates hereon. The government vehicles will have yellow font, private vehicles will bear white font and taxis numbers would be written in black.
The information and communications ministry launched the number plates yesterday at its office compound.
The main objective of this initiative is to help maintain the status of carbon neutral country for all times to come and to distinguish EV as an environment-friendly vehicle.
The ministry intends to provide certain recognition and incentivise the electric vehicle drivers like free parking, free entry in congested zones, and other proposed benefits in the future.
An electric taxi driver, Kinley Dorji, said, “This initiative will encourage more people to buy EV. As of now, my vehicle can travel 165km in a single charge and so far it’s going well.”
EV initiative was first launched in 2014 with the aim to reduce carbon emission and also to reduce the dependency on fossil fuels. As of yesterday, there were 103 registered EVs most of which are in Thimphu.
The ministry has initiated a EV project called ‘Bhutan Sustainable Low Emission Urban Transport Systems’ with the budget support from the Global Environment Facility and technical support from the United Nations Development Programme.
The three-year project which began this year intends to facilitate transition to low emission vehicles particularly the use of EV and aims to roll out 300 more EV as taxi within Thimphu.
The project will facilitate to create a conducive environment by adopting EV as a preferred mode of urban transport through review of policies, building infrastructure and capacity building.
Project Manager, Phub Gyeltshen, said the project provides 20 percent subsidy for every EV taxi buyers with maximum cap of USD 5,500 and in support of the EV promotion, the Royal Monetary Authority has endorsed 70 percent loan from the financial institutions to all the EV buyers.
Including Thimphu and Paro, there are five charging stations at present and by the end of April next year, the project will add another 15-18 charging stations across Thimphu, Paro, Punakha, Wangduephodrang, Haa, and Phuentsholing.
The official said that focusing on EV could increase the revenue of the country. “One of the greatest threats to fiscal deficit is the import of fossil fuel. We export clean energy and earn revenue, but at the same time, we expend huge budget for fossil fuel which is ironic.”
Phub Gyeltshen said that this is a timely initiative given the current trend of 15 percent imports of vehicles annually. “If we don’t act on transport sector now, it will be difficult to maintain the status of carbon neutral as in the next 10 years, the pollution from the vehicles will be more if the trend continues.”
“All the conventional fossil fuel car manufacturers are now shifting to electric vehicles and it is assured that the future mode of transport would be e-mobility and it is obvious that we should work on promoting EV,” he said.
As it is an emerging technology, lack of awareness, confidence and trust are major challenges.
“People still have the preconceived that electric vehicles cannot travel longer distance. Now with improved technologies, we’ve EV that can travel 400-500kms in a single charge. We want all the government agencies to use electric vehicles and set an example to the public,” he added.
More than 200 taxi drivers attended awareness programme on EV this year and the ministry plans to conduct such programmes across the country.