They may not have the same finish, the same elegant aerodynamic lines of their Japanese rivals but Made in Nepal Sherpa vans and light commercial vehicles are sturdy, cheap and, their manufacturers say, made for Nepali road conditions. After eight years of being tested on our potholes, Sherpas have now ironed out all the kinks and attained new self-confidence to compete with the big brands.
This is not the first time that the name Sherpa has been borrowed by a car manufacturer. The other one is Austin Rover's Sherpa van in Britain. But these are 100 percent homegrown vehicles put together by Hulas Motors of Biratnagar. "We take pride in our Sherpa," says executive director, Surendra Golchha. "There is very good scope for a light commercial vehicle (LCV) in Nepal and we have a product that is ideally suited." While the design chassis and tyres of the Sherpa are Nepali, the engine and gearbox are Chinese.
The original model Sherpa 46 (D) had a 5+1 gear and a top speed of 100 km/h with 12 km/l-all for up to Rs 790,000. There is now a whole new lineup from Hulas that includes: the Sherpa 13-seater double cabin jeep, Sherpa mini truck, Sherpa Mini-V van(Rs 500,000) and soon to be unveiled will be the luxury Mustang LCV which will come fully equipped with power steering, air conditioner, 2.5 l engine, radial tyres and leather seats. And all this for Rs 900,000, one-fourth the price of a comparable imported brand.
Hulas is hoping for a production run of 20 cars a month. Sherpa owners are all praise for their vehicle, some of it tinged with patriotic pride that their country has finally made it to the league of those that produce cars. But what they like most of all about their Sherpas are the price tags!