Electric Vehicle project

The Electric Vehicle project launched 21 charging stations in six dzongkhags of Thimphu, Paro, Punakha, Wangdeuphodrang, Chukha and Haa. 

Bhutan is reputed for its pristine environment and its unparalleled commitment towards environmental conservation. However, carbon emissions are on the rise with rapidly increasing fossil fuel consumption, which now constitutes the most significant item in the country’s import basket. The transport sector is the highest contributor to GHG emissions in Bhutan with over 45%, and with the rising growth rate in motor vehicles, the sector could potentially threaten the country’s commitment to remain carbon neutral.

With the vision to become the first full-fledged electric-vehicle city in the world, Bhutan must mobilize significant institutional and financial resources. As a stepping stone towards this initiative the government is considering replacing a fleet of 300 taxis with electric vehicle equivalents. The project “Bhutan Sustainable Low-emission Urban Transport Systems” funded by the UNDP-GEF was initiated with the aim of reducing 43,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide over the period of nine years. The project is a demonstration of the importance of the E-mobility initiative in the country.

The country has seen an increasing rise in the uptake of EVs over the three years of the project duration; in both the private and commercial sectors. EVs of 10, 14 and 5 numbers were procured as a Government pool vehicle, Private vehicles and commercial taxis respectively. However, the ratio of EVs to the total number of vehicles imported is still poor with 1 EVs per 771 ICE vehicles (148 EVs of the total 114129 registered ICE motor vehicles). The need to upscale the uptake of EVs and dis-incentivizing fossil fuel based cars is therefore viewed as critical to realize the vision of green fleet and smart city.

Among the major factors in our effort to push EV adoption, provision of adequate Public Charging Stations still remains a challenge due to lack of funds and complexity in acquiring land and other clearances.  The road towards the uptake of EVs is unfulfilled without the adequate numbers of charging stations being installed.  The Project Management Unit despite numerous challenges had been able to complete the installation of public charging stations in 15 locations; Thimphu, Paro, Haa, Punakha, Wangdue and Chukha including two along the Thimphu-Phuentsholing highway.

It is my pleasure to inform the public that 11 charging stations have been fully operational except for the two stations in Phuentsholing and two at Paro which are delayed owing to the lockdown situation in Phuenthsoling. However, it is expected to complete the remaining works as soon as possible after sourcing the necessary electrical components from Kolkatta.

I would also like to share that all the charging machines are customized to support the two popular charging standards namely the European and the Japanese standard (CCS and ChadeMo). With the adoption of these standards, it is hoped to give people the option to buy EVs from across the world. All the 15 DC machines can simultaneously charge two vehicles at the same time with the power output of 60 kW respectively. Depending on the battery pack of the car, it is possible to fully charge the EV between 30 mins to 60 mins. Along with the DC chargers, 10 additional AC level 2 chargers have also been installed to support top up charging facilities. The AC chargers will take a long duration to charge compared to the DC fast chargers.

With the inauguration of the charging station here at Changlimithang, I would like to inform you that the project office is operationalizing the use of charging stations in 11 locations.

Lastly but not the least, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Aum Asusa Kubota and her team, Dasho Secretary in his capacity as the Board Chair, Members of the Project Board, Office of the Prime Minister, Taxi Association and also the Office of the Bhutan Trust Fund for their support in building infrastructure for the EV ecosystem. I look forward to receiving your continued support to enhance the uptake of EVs towards a green and clean transportation system for our future generations.

Karma Donnen Wangdi

Minister, Ministry of Information and Communications