Nepali Times
Join the joyride


The roads in Kathmandu may have reached saturation point, but don't imagine something like that will deter people from investing in cars. Take a 15-minute drive on any of the city roads, and you can say hello to 4-wheelers from the world over; cars from Japan, Europe, Korea, India, and China are quite at home here in Nepal.

"The fact that so many automobile brands have been able to establish themselves here says a lot about the market," says Rabindra Raut, General Manager of Vijay Motors, which distributes Chevrolet and Subaru. "Owning a vehicle used to be a luxury, but now it has become a necessity." Indeed, the customer profile for cars is no longer limited to the rich. Customers are as diverse as the models available.

The positive sales graph for entry-level cars indicates that many motorcycle owners are moving up the market. And those who already own a car are looking for new models. Competition is fierce, so it's a buyer's market in terms of choice of quality, features, style, and price. Car dealers are looking to sweeten deals by providing good after-sale service, including through warranties, free servicing and exchange facilities.

The car market boomed a couple of years ago, backed by easy loans from banks and finance companies. The industry grew tremendously, both in terms of sales as well as the number of dealers in the market. "But the last few months have been a bit slow," says Sachin Aryal, Deputy General Manager of Continental Trading (Kia Motors). "The liquidity crunch hit not just the financial market but other industries like us who are dependent on it."

The pre-budget period used to be one of the best sales months for car dealers. "Customers expected a rise in the price of cars and wanted to buy early," says Rupesh Sharma Bhatta of Laxmi Intercontinental (Hyundai).  But the uncertainty preceding the announcement of the budget has changed consumer perceptions.

However, with Dasain round the corner, dealers are once more optimistic. Banks have also become slightly lenient with financing car purchases. "Already there are signs of improvement in the market," says Mahesh Ghimire, Senior Manager at Dugar Brothers & Sons (Nissan), "and we can expect the market to expand."

An indication of this faith in the market is an eagerness to bring in new models. "We recognise the potential of the market," says Akash Golchha of Hansraj Hulaschand, which is planning to introduce Ford to Nepal. "We are not short-term players and understand that as soon as the political and financial environments improve, the market will pick up." Volkswagen is also making its official entry.

The automobile industry contributes 30 per cent of Nepal's  import duty revenues and considering the demand for automobiles, this is unlikely to go down, even with duties at a staggering 200 per cent. "What we want is for these duties to translate into infrastructural development," says Saurabh Jyoti, Director of Jyoti Group (Honda). "People will buy but the roads have to be expanded and improved to sustain the growth in the number of vehicles."

Car  Bajar

The first question you have to ask yourself is " what are you looking for, apart from four wheels? Once you decide on the price bracket that suits you best, you're on your way. Here's a rough guide to keep you on track.

Skoda Laura

Luxury rides don't come easy on the roads here but Skoda's 1896cc Laura fits right in. This 1.9-litre diesel-powered car is fitted with a 'rough road' package of upgraded shock absorbers, protective underbody coating and 160mm ground clearance to cope with Nepal's potholes.
Price: Rs 46,90,000

Honda Accord

If you're looking for a comfortable, spacious and easy-to-drive machine, the Honda Accord is it. This beauty is fitted with a 2.4-litre inline-4 that is coupled with a 5-speed manual transmission gearbox, and churns out 177 horsepower at 6500rpm.
Price: Rs 69,50,000

Nissan Teana

Teana only recently made its debut in Nepal but is already getting ample attention. It flaunts a 2.5-litre inline-4 engine, with a 4-speed continuously variable automatic transmission that transmits 175 horsepower at 5600rpm to the front wheels, with interiors to match.
Price: Rs 65,00,000

Mazda 6

You're sure to make heads turn when you zoom past in a Mazda 6. The model is powered by a 2.5-litre 4-cylinder engine generating 170 horsepower, and puts together the best of comfort, style and speed. 

Maruti Suzuki SX4

Elegant looks and functional interiors combined, the Maruti Suzuki is a bargain for sedan buyers. The 1586 cc car is powered with 16-valve, 4-cylinder engine and has enough ground clearance for you to quit worrying about speed breakers. 
Price: Rs 27,88,840-30,58,910

Geely MK

If you want a sedan but can't afford the high-end models, the Geely MK may be the answer. Looks grand and drives easy, the 1498cc Geely MK is powered by a 1.5 litre inline-4 engine.
Price: Rs 19,00,000-21,75,000

With the import duty slashed to only 40 per cent, the cute and eco-friendly Reva cars are now within range for many more practical types. Charge it for two and a half hours daily and it will easily run 84 kms. What's more, you can drive a Reva even through the gallis while the rest of its petrol-disel powered cousins are jammed bumper to bumper on high street or at the local fill-er-up.
Price: Rs 14,90,000

Tata Indica V2 DLE

Indica V2 DLE looks compact but has a comparatively bigger interior space than others in its range. With a turning radius of 4.9 metres, this 1405cc diesel model makes driving through narrow roads effortless.
Price: Rs 13,95,000

Perodua, Myvi

Myvi has a powerful 86bhp 1.3-litre petrol engine and is zippy around town. Controls are well laid out and easy to use and considering its size, it has plenty of head and leg room. The rear seats have a 60/40 fold to make more boot room.
Price: Rs 21,60,000-23,85,000

Chevrolet Beat

The distinctive style of Chevrolet Beat is sure to catch anyone's attention. The Beat comes with a 1.2-litre, 4-cylinder petrol engine which ensures a comfortable drive. Its suspension soaks up bumps with ease.
Price: Rs 18,40,000-22,70,000

Hyundai i20

Hyundai i20 is equipped with the one of the best engines in its range, and has the right level of standard equipment and low running costs, making it an easy pick. The entry-level models are powered by 77bhp 1.2-litre petrol engines but there are higher options as well.
Price: Rs 22,50,000-24,95,000

Naza Forza

Naza Forza is a compact car with a fuel-efficient 1075cc, DOCH, 16-valve multi-point EFi engine. Though the body is small enough to squeeze in anywhere, you won't feel cramped when you take a trip with your family.
Prices: Rs 16,50,000-17,80,000

KIA Sportage

Kia Sportage looks youthful and adventurous, and is fitted with 2.0 litre inline 4-cylinder petrol or common rail diesel engines. It can maneuver through the city roads as efficiently as it can off them.
Price: Rs 38,49,000-51,00,000

Daihatsu Terios
You like the utility of SUVs but are unsure about driving a vehicle that size? The Terios may be the right choice for you. Daihatsu has a reputation for building cars that last and Terios is no exception. The 1.5 litre petrol engine gives good performance and economy with an amazingly spacious interior.
Price: Rs 39,00,000-44,50,000

Chery Tiggo

Tiggo is one popular model for its design, space and performance, proving wrong the common perception of Chinese cars. Tiggo's ride is smooth and its ultra-soft suspension is capable of absorbing the nastiest of road surfaces with ease.

Mitsubishi Pajero Sport
Use it in the city or for a trip on the road, the 3.5-litre V6 engine Pajero Sport will prove a trouble-free drive. The SUV appears rugged on the outside but is as comfortable as a family car on the inside.

Mahindra Scorpio mHawk

The 16-inch alloy wheels, the aggressive front bumper, and the tough body make the Mahindra Scorpio mhawk look like a beast. But ride an mHawk and you can be assured of safety, technology, comfort and convenience.
Prices: Rs 40,25,000-43,40,000

Subaru Forester

Subaru Forester combines adventure and safety. The 2457cc Forester has the utilities of an SUV and the luxury of a sedan. The bottomed center of gravity of the revolutionary boxer engine keeps you comfortable even on the bumpiest roads. 
Price: Rs 63,00,000-75,00,000

It's the bank's business, ASHUTOSH TIWARI
Leapfrogging with phone cash

1. Gole
It is apparent that cars are no longer a luxury. We have seen cars beuig carried on human backs across  the mountains, before Trivuban Rajpath was built. Then being flown inside  a DC-3..We have seen the Finance Ministry run by Yadhav Pant s,Bhekh Bahadurs, Bharat Bahadurs ,till Khanals or Baskotas. Jati Jogi aayepani kanaikatekah.Without industrialization , manufacturing, servicing , and creation of jobs with disposable incomes, it is always ,ghar polera dauraa balne naiko continuation nai rahechha.
Planning ma Halha Bahadur hun ki Saijuhun ki ,Badri hun kehi lachharenan.
Bhansar ko bharma rajya sanchalan hudai chha.
Two hundred per cent carma tax uthayera katidin chlne? Remittance ra foreign aid le chalera ke hunchha.

So exoensive cars should better be banned. Import duty should be rationalized to compete the car prices prevailing in India.Ban cars costing above 10 lacs  in Indian currency. Encourage Golchha making /assembling cars. Nehru gave monopoly to Birla for decades for their Hindustan Motors., we can invite others too.
Don,t treat cars as luxury, as in Rama days.
Improve roads. Manage traffic efficiently. Indroduce driving  discipline.Maintain cars engines properly.  Educate pedestrians to cross properly the roads.Improve intersections.Stop adulteration of fuel. Make footpaths user friendly.
Finally build mass transport system  ,may be mono-rail, in this fast growing metropolis. It is getting late .

2. ram prasad
The prices of cars are ridiculous in Nepal. While the Government officials ride the vehicles on which they pay only 1 percent duty, the general public have to pay some 160 percent. This is absolutely unfair. The duty or the customs of the vehicles must be reduced to make it more affordable for the general public.

3. npvas
where are the roads to ride these cars? no wonder walking is faster than cars on kathmandu streets.

4. Sarath G
I dont really mind paying 225% tax on top of the price of the car. But I feel like scratching my face with a fork when these ignorant, uneducated, and so not-deserving politicians and their bharaurteys ride around town in cars that is paid for by the tax we pay. And the icing on the cake has to be the Maoists driving around in stolen cars... Wish I could just slap their face... 

5. Kenji
Nepal would be another great venue for Shai Agassi's Better Place company, which is rolling out high tech networks of recharging stations for purpose-built Renault electric cars.  Better Place's two launch markets are Denmark, which has a lot of wind-generated renewable electricity, and Israel, which is small and totally dependent on oil imports.  Sounds like Nepal, although plentiful low cost renewable electricity in Nepal is still a dream at this point.  If Nepal could get its dam building house in order so the hydro electric current begins flowing, then the government could use preferential tarrifs to steer buyers into electric vehicles as it does now with the Reva.

6. Navin
Making cars expensive could be a constructive strategy to keep too many of them off the road and reducing the impact they have on the environment. However, there should be a robust and affordable public transport sytem in place, as in Singapore.

7. Ram Guragain
Government are faking Nepalese citizens by dutying 210% tax on cars. Shameless political parties. Nepalese politicians should die in a river one hundred million times before they are called "Nepalese".

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)