Yatri Motorcycles' Ongoing Battle to Register Home-Grown Vehicles in Nepal

Yatri Motorcycles' Ongoing Battle to Register Home-Grown Vehicles in Nepal
Picture: A finished 'P-1 Model' Electric Motorbike in Yatri Motorcycles Production Plant at Budhanilkantha.

Yatri Motorcycles came into existence in 2017. For the past five years, we have been working to develop performance-focused electric vehicles from the ground up, in Nepal. P-1 is our first commercial indigenous vehicle platform borne out of this R&D.

Our company’s origin is based on the vision of reinventing urban mobility by developing world-class electric vehicles and its ecosystem in-house. By creating a team that can work on a wide spectrum of technology and an environment that nurtures great talents to compete on a global platform, Yatri has been moving forward on this mission with great strides.

To give a clear context of the progress in terms of the advancements we have made so far and the hurdles on this mission, let us describe our major timelines in brief.

On 6 December 2017, we registered Yatri as a company at the Office of the Company Registrar with the aim to develop electric vehicles in Nepal and conduct sales and distribution of these said vehicles in Nepal and beyond. As such, we then begin immediately applying for permissions and certificates from various ministries and departments for our work.

Among other certificates, an important one for us was the permission to build our own chassis which was awarded to us by the Department of Transport Management (DOTM) of the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport (MOPIT). This separates us from everyone else in this space as we do not bring CKD parts to assemble from foreign Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) which several other dealerships are doing. This certificate granted us permission to set up a ‘cha’ category workshop to build our own chassis indigenously in Nepal.

After several years of development, prototyping, testing, iterating, and further development, we were ready with a pre-production unit of P-1 for Roadworthiness Test from another department of MOPIT (Vehicle Fitness Center, Teku) in November 2021. We successfully passed all the Roadworthiness Tests and received another certificate awarding us the approval to be able to register and operate the P-1 vehicles in Nepal. This certificate was accompanied by a recommendation letter addressing yet another department of MOPIT (Vehicle Registration Office, Gurjudhara) to register the bike. This is when we realized how outdated our policies are and the need for a forward-looking policy for our country.

To register a vehicle - the registration office requires a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) inscribed on the chassis and Engine Number (in our case Motor Number). As there is no authority to regulate the VIN because there are no other vehicle manufacturers who indigenously build their own chassis - we took the initiative to apply to SAE USA which awards the VIN for the jurisdiction where no local authority provides this. As such, we are the first OEM from Nepal to receive a VIN code for Nepal. We abide by ISO3780 to create a unique VIN for each chassis to guarantee traceability, as is with our unique Motor Numbers.

Although Section 20 of the Motor Vehicles and Transport Management Act 2075 for Bagmati has mentioned registration for ‘Made in Nepal’ vehicles, the embarrassing protocol at the Vehicle Registration Office at Gurjudhara states to register vehicles as per the VIN and Engine number written on the ‘Pragyapan Patra’ received at the Customs Clearing Office only. However, since P-1 is entirely brought to life in Nepal, we only have ‘Pragyapan Patra’ of raw and unprocessed parts. We also submitted the complete copy of Pragyapan Patra (for all imported raw materials) to Gurjudhara at their request. However, this process of registration for Made in Nepal vehicles has created a lot of confusion among the personnel at the Registration Office, and our case has been going around from office to office (from Bagmati Provincial government to DOTM to MOPIT) for over a year now with no clear leadership and initiative to really help this noble cause of the country’s own capital goods manufacturing. According to them, there is no clear regulation in sight to govern the registration of Nepal-made motor vehicles.

We hope this blog entry sheds some light on the legal inconsistencies. However, we would also like to mention that together with the Technical Director and his team at DOTM and a few forward-thinking personnel at MOPIT, we have provided feedback in formulating an 85-page Directive that would essentially solve all the problems in registering a ‘made in Nepal’ vehicle and is ready to be implemented. However, we were told that for this Directive to be implemented by the DOTM, there has to be an amendment in Niyamawali which needs to go through the Minister’s Cabinet approval. However, according to the latest information that we received, strangely everything except the “Directive for Made in Nepal” vehicles were approved in the last cabinet meeting. Lack of clear leadership and vision in the government despite our repeated clarification and requests has been the single biggest root cause for this unacceptable delay that has caused frustrations among our users and a halt of our production since September 2022 (after briefly producing bikes from May 2022) leading to the dire internal situation.

After constantly working with government officials and departments for over a year now, we have made some progress but not enough to solve the problem, yet. It has incredibly demotivated and frustrated us but we have not lost hope nor the willingness to develop and manufacture world-class vehicles in Nepal - thanks to the huge support from our incredible users and community of supporters. We are hopeful that our difficult period of legal limbo will come to an end swiftly to help our users and provide us with a clear path to move forward. In order to pave the way for our nation’s self-reliance on individual modes of transport which is 80% of the utilization and development of domestic electricity market consumption to mitigate a large trade deficit due to the import of transport fossil fuel, we believe Nepal’s Governmental Policies should be forward thinking to support sustainable mobility for all.

Picture: A Fleet of P-1 Motorbikes in mid-production at Yatri Motorcycles Plant back in August 2022.
Picture: A Fleet of Delivery Ready P-1 Motorbikes at Yatri Motorcycles Production Plant back in August 2022.