Jeevan Jung Shahi: On a rough terrain, SERES offers a smooth ride
Electric vehicles are a new rage all over the world where fossil fuel-run vehicles are rapidly becoming a thing of the past. Given ever-increasing petroleum prices and a large carbon footprint that the conventional vehicles leave behind, not to mention increasing costs of running a fossil fuel-based economy, Nepal is also not immune from this switch to the EVs.
Against this backdrop, SERES—an EV brand born in the USA, mastered in China, proven in Europe—has entered Nepal, where a couple of other brands already have their presence.
Devendra Gautam of ApEx had a free-wheeling conversation with Jeevan Jung Shahi, director of LRR Group, the authorized distributors of SERES for Nepal.
SERES took part in the NADA Auto Show 2023. How was SERES’ performance? What word best describes the customers’ response?
The customer response was absolutely fantastic, there was an incredible crowd and they were crazy about SERES. NADA Auto 2023 was an incredible success for SERES, with an outstanding booking of almost 334 units.
Any special feature that you think gives SERES EVs an edge over competitors?
The 190mm ground clearance is a feature that is really unmatched, this is really one of the many features exclusive to SERES in the SUV EV segment.
Nepal’s roads are rough and climatic conditions quite challenging. Do you expect a smooth journey ahead for SERES, EVs in particular?
Navigating challenging road conditions and extreme climates can be a significant hurdle for electric vehicles in Nepal, but I expect that with SERES' design and durability, these obstacles can be overcome. SERES manufacturers design their vehicles to withstand rough road conditions and challenging climates, incorporating features such as reinforced suspensions and a higher ground clearance of 190mm in SERES. These enhancements, along with all-wheel-drive systems, can greatly enhance a vehicle's ability to handle uneven and rough terrain.
The national economy is not so healthy. Do you still think this was the right time to enter the Nepali market?
Entering a new market, especially one facing economic challenges like the Nepali market does now, requires careful consideration and a well-thought-out strategy. It’s time for EVs globally, a boom time in EV technology. So, this was the perfect time for LRR GROUP in EV Automobiles to enter the Nepali market.
What is the price range of SERES EVs? What special features do they entail? What financing options are available? What about-after sales services?
The price range of SERES EVs can vary depending on the model and features. Currently, we have two models in the market: One is the comfort variant, and the other is the premium variant, priced at Rs 5m and Rs 5.3m, respectively. The premium variant offers additional features like a panoramic sunroof, 360-degree camera, wireless charger, sunglass holder, and front auto-heated seats.
Certainly, customers can avail themselves of EMI options with a 20 percent down payment over a span of seven years, at a competitive 10.49 percent interest rate on SERES vehicles.
LRR Motors is committed to providing roadside assistance and mobile service options. I want to assure the SERES family that we will deliver the best after-sales services, including maintenance, warranty coverage, and support for SERES vehicle owners.
Nepal’s petroleum addiction seems to be getting worse. A country with formidable hydropower potential imports petroleum products from a monopoly market through South Asia’s first cross-border petroleum pipeline, the Motihari-Amlekhgunj pipeline. Plans are underway to extend the pipeline to Chitwan and then to Kathmandu. Another cross-border project--the Siliguri-Charali pipeline is also on the cards. Given such a scenario, how friendly are government policies vis-a-vis the EVs?
Yes, there is a 69-km cross-border petroleum pipeline project, running from the state-run Indian Oil's terminal in Motihahari in north Bihar to Nepal Oil Corporation’s Amlekhgunj depot. The project was initially scheduled for completion in 2020 but is still in progress. We hope that once this project is finished, it will significantly improve the situation compared to today.
Like many countries, Nepal faces environmental challenges, including air pollution and climate change. Promoting EVs aligns with efforts to reduce carbon emissions and combat pollution. Nepal possesses significant hydropower potential, making it an ideal source of electricity for EVs. Reducing reliance on petroleum imports through the development of EV infrastructure can enhance energy security.
Expanding EV infrastructure such as charging stations constitutes a key component of government policies aimed at supporting EV adoption. Plans to extend petroleum pipelines may not necessarily conflict with EV policies if the government considers EVs as a complement to traditional transportation.
Does Nepal have adequate infra to switch at least partially to a transport system that is EV-driven?
Nepal has made efforts to develop the infrastructure necessary to support EVs, but it is still in the early stages of development. The extent of EV infrastructure in Nepal can vary by region, and it's important to note that progress may have occurred since that time. To assess the current state of EV infrastructure in Nepal and its adequacy for a partial transition to an EV-driven transport system, it is advisable to check with local authorities, electric utilities and EV industry stakeholders for the most up-to-date information. The development of EV infrastructure is often an ongoing process, and governments and private sector entities may continue to invest in this area to facilitate the adoption of electric mobility solutions.
The government has started setting up charging stations for electric vehicles, primarily in urban areas like Kathmandu. However, the number of charging stations is relatively limited compared to the demand. Nepal’s significant hydropower potential can serve as a source of clean energy for EVs, making it an ideal candidate for a transition to electric mobility. Spreading awareness among consumers about the benefits of EVs and addressing concerns like range anxiety are essential for a successful transition.
Does the LRR Group have some dreams and a long-term vision for our country? Dreams like developing indigenous EVs in Nepal itself, together with young minds, innovators, engineering/technical institutions, investors and the government?
Yes, we have dreams for our country and a vision. LRR Group is still striving to contribute to government efforts and policies as an electric vehicle (EV) business in a proactive way to support the growth of the EV industry and promote sustainable transportation.
Here are several ways through which your EV business can contribute to government initiatives:
Advocacy and lobbying
Join or support industry associations or groups dedicated to electric vehicles. These organizations often advocate for policies that benefit the EV industry.
Collaborate with these associations to collectively engage with government officials and policymakers to voice your concerns and offer insights.
Develop well-researched policy recommendations that can support the growth of the EV market. These recommendations can cover areas such as incentives, charging infrastructure, emissions standards, and tax policies.
Present these recommendations before relevant government agencies, legislators, and policymakers.
Education and outreach
Organize events, workshops, and seminars to educate government officials, the public, and potential customers.
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