Demonstration City: Kathmandu
Knowledge products related to demo activities and e-mobility in general, such as e-buses, vehicle retrofitting, light electric vehicles, urban logistics, charging infrastructure, and vehicle integration, were incorporated into the SOLUTIONSplus online toolbox and shared with the city. These have supported Kathmandu in understanding e-mobility technicality as well as policy and planning aspects.
Kathmandu stakeholders benefited from the Asia regional and Kathmandu-specific trainings on e-mobility, held in 2021 and 2022. In May 2021, an online training on “How e-mobility and integrated urban mobility planning can contribute to the SDGs in Asian cities” was organised. In October 2021, the Asia Regional training provided a combination of introductory knowledge about the e-mobility sector and the prerequisites for planning the e-mobility ecosystem, as well as specialized topics on electric vehicle management, selecting and setting up charging infrastructure, and other cross-cutting topics. As a follow up, these topics were covered in a subsequent Kathmandu-specific training (online) specifically to address local context and challenges. To build technical, financial and managerial capacity, an exchange between Sajha Yatayat and Valeo was facilitated in September 2022. This was followed by a face-to-face workshop in November 2022 on business models and financing for the electrification of public transport in Nepal, which was also joined by government authorities, private sectors and development agencies. Sajha Yatayat then organised e-3 wheelers driver training and e-bus technical training in Kathmandu in November and December 2022.
To establish an ecosystem of electric mobility to enhance public transport in Kathmandu, two local start-ups were engaged and received seed funding: Clean Energy International (CEI), which supported the development of prototypes for the remodelling of Safa tempos (e-3 wheelers) for passenger and cargo services, and Shree Eco visionary (SEV), for prototypes for a new design of e-3 wheelers with a multi-use concept (passenger, cargo, and waste) and e-shuttle van. A local partner and public transport operator, Sajha Yatayat, is converting a diesel bus to an e-bus – the first of its kind in Nepal. PEM motion, a German start-up selected from the EU Innovators call, also provided advisory support on the structure and design of a cargo vehicle for CEI and an e-shuttle van for SEV. Kathmandu will also test a second-life battery from Betteries (a German start-up selected from the EU-Innovators call) in an e-shuttle van.
In an academic collaboration, the Kathmandu demonstration case was also a part of Denmark Technical University (DTU)’s B.Sc. course in June 2021 and February 2022, where students presented concepts on ‘Promotion of e-mobility in the public urban transport of Kathmandu, Nepal’. The students from DTU and King’s College from Kathmandu prepared two studies on the prefeasibility of vehicle integration services in June 2022. DTU M.Sc. students will also work on the Kathmandu demonstration evaluation in 2023.
The SOLUTIONSplus project launched the electric 3-wheelers in Kathmandu in November 2022 as the first phase of its demo launch program. Specifically, a remodelled Safa tempo for passenger use and a new e-cargo tempo were launched, manufactured by local companies CEI and SEV, respectively. In December 2022, the prototype of e-3 wheeler (cargo use case) was also readied. All of these prototype vehicles are in the stage of test run, and data collection on the users’ and drivers’ perception and technical performance is underway as an ex-ante assessment.
Sajha Yatayat has selected a local supplier via the public procurement process to supply and deliver a conversion kit for converting a diesel bus to an electric bus. The prototype is planned to be ready by mid 2023.
To assess the impact of each prototype developed in Kathmandu, a detailed assessment is being conducted. SOLUTIONSplus gathered 14 key stakeholders in November 2022 to advance the impact assessment of selected e-mobility demonstration actions in Kathmandu. This activity will eventually inform and support the scaling up of the EV demonstrations in the city.
Nepal’s Department of Transport Management is drafting a policy on vehicle conversion and Nepal Electricity Authority is developing infrastructure for a public charging system. To complement these activities, SOLUTIONSplus is developing policy papers on Vehicle conversion and Charging Infrastructure.
SOLUTIONSplus will also draft a paper on National Urban Mobility Plan to support developing integrated sustainable mobility planning.
E-mobility in public transport
In Kathmandu, a demonstration action will contribute to create an ecosystem for electric mobility in Kathmandu by demonstrating different EVs to enhance public transport, as well as suitable charging solutions and related services. It will support the integration of several innovative last-mile solutions such as 30 new and 50 remodelled E-3-wheelers s (for public transport) and 20 E-scooters/e-bikes (provided by the city/ Valeo) with 5 E-minibuses, (e.g. 8-meter length) (co-funded by the city), the buses in use currently and forthcoming E-buses. 2 diesel buses will be converted to E-buses replacing the drive system (motor, transmission and rear axle) and the suitable business model will be developed (IDIADA). The E-buses/E-minibuses and E-3-wheelers (refurbished and new with an innovative Valeo 48V all-electric prototype) are planned to run on the existing routes. As charging infrastructure is poor or non-existent in public, suitable options for charging EVs and batteries will be suggested. E-buses and E-minibuses with Lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery large enough to allow for the daily operation (without charging) up to 14 hours will be sought, together with charging strategies such as plug-in overnight charging located in the depot. Several existing E-3-wheelers s will be remodelled - mainly converting lead-acid batteries into Li-ion batteries and refurbishing the chassis, assembling the vehicle parts locally. New E-3-wheelers with Li-ion batteries and fast charging system will be introduced together with innovative business model, such as battery leasing/pay-per-use model. This will provide better services for E-3-wheelers as public transportation in the city. E-scooters/e-bike sharing system, that reduce the dependence on owning private vehicles, will also be sought in the demonstration project with state-of the-art technologies such as GPS positioning, contactless payments and 2 docking stations integrated into charging facilities.
The demonstration also supports promotional activities to raise awareness on EVs, introduce integrated electronic payment system with smart card (in public transport) and smart services for fleet management including an improved information system as well as proper operation and maintenance of vehicles (SOL+ MaaS App). The demonstration will also explore the feasibility to integrate renewables and improve the profitability of the charging business, such as Vehicle to Grid (V2G) applications, and business model on energy integration (Dynniq).
Trends and drivers
With the growing urbanisation and higher incomes, the demand for vehicles is increasing. Vehicle registration – primarily private vehicles - is increasing tremendously, causing air pollution and health impacts. During 1990-2015, the number of total vehicles registration yearly grew by 14% per year (see Figure 1). Within this, during 1990-2014, the number of registered personal cars grew at 11%; the number of two wheelers grew at 12% (Department of Transport Management, 2014). Two-wheelers modal share has risen from 55% in 1991, to over 80% in 2014 (see Figure 2). By 2016, there were a total of 2,339,169 vehicles registered in Nepal. A major share of these vehicles is concentrated in the Kathmandu valley. The number of buses rose from 4000 units in 1990, to more than 35,000 units in 2015. This category includes full size buses, minibuses, microbuses and three-wheeler microbuses, called tempos. However, as a share of the total vehicle fleet, buses have declined from 11% of the total in 1990, to only 3% in 2015 due the rise of private vehicles (GGGI, 2018). According to recent data, the national public and private vehicle fleet, excluding commercial vehicles (like trucks and mini trucks, construction machines), contributes about 4.5 million tonnes CO2 emissions per year, and 1.9 million tonnes in the Kathmandu valley.
The Kathmandu Valley
Kathmandu is the country’s capital and the largest city (population of 1 million), followed by Pokhara, Lalitpur, Bharatpur and Birgunj metropolitan cities (population above 200,000). The Kathmandu valley includes 3 cities – Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur with total area of 570 sq. km. The population of the valley is 2.5 million with annual growth rate of 4.63% (3.5 million unofficial). This represents 9.32% of entire population of country. Some of the initiatives on energy generation/conservation, sustainable transport and waste management in the valley are discussed below.
Road transport dominates transport infrastructure in Nepal (cars, bus, motorcycle and marginal non-motorised transport). In the Kathmandu Valley, the number of vehicles registered tremendously rose—an increase of over 12-fold from 45,871 in 1990/1991 to 570,145 in 2010/2011. The highest number of vehicles type in the valley was motorised two-wheelers. Air pollution was the second leading cause of death in one of the main hospitals of the Kathmandu Valley in 2011. To reduce air pollution in the Kathmandu Valley, these 3 measures are urgently required: improving vehicle speed, promoting public transportation, and introducing electric vehicles that could reduce public transportation energy demand by more than 60% (Shrestha, Shrestha, & Shrestha, 2017). Some electric cars and scooters have been introduced in cities. Electrically powered 3 wheeler e-Tuk-Tuk/e-rickshaw (Safa Tempo) is a successful example of public EV in Nepal (e.g. in Kathmandu and in southern part of Nepal), in operation since 1996. Currently, 1,200 e-rickshaws (Safa Tempos) run in Kathmandu (Shahi, 2017). Less than 100 electric cars are in the valley, mainly imported form India, China and South Korea (which is negligible compared to fossil-fueled cars). A few small electric cars are produced in Nepal by Hulas Motor Company as an experiment. Charging infrastructure is in very nascent state in Kathmandu (also in Nepal). Nepal Electrical Authority opened a demo charging station at its office in order to boost public interest in EVs. E-scooters are a solution to replace the growing and highly used fossil fueled scooters in the valley. Public transportation services, currently run by the private sector through individual operators, are still not adequate in the city. The addition of e-bus can improve accessibility and environment.