Friday, September 01, 2006
Nepal Visit (Part 3): Vroom...
The greater number of automobiles in Nepal are imported. I can not say none are manufactured in the country, for I suppose that a couple of motorcycle models are now being produced there in collaboration with a Chinese firm, but these do not appear to have a substantial market share, as of now.
Most automobile models that are available in India are available in Nepal as well. So, I came across quite a few familiar two and four wheeler models, upon reaching Nepal. There were a fair number of Maruti-Suzuki, Honda, Toyota and Hyundai cars, as well as Hero-Honda, Yamaha, Bajaj and even Royal-Enfield motorcycles, among others, that had obviously been imported from India. Besides these, there were trucks and buses produced by Tata and Ashok Leyland. Also, most of the taxis in Kathmandu are Maruti 800's.
However, I suppose the Nepalese started importing cars from India only after some of the popular international brands set up shop in the country, since I did not see any Premier Padminis or Ambassadors in Nepal.
A large number of vehicles are imported into Nepal from countries other than India, as well. I came across a large number of motorcycles, cars, trucks, buses and vans from Korea, Japan, Germany, China, etc.
In addition to the large and medium-sized SUVs (Sport Utility Vehicles) or 4x4s (Four Wheel Drive Vehicles) like the Toyota Landcruiser, Mitsubishi Pajero, Isuzu Trooper, Suzuki Vitara, etc., what caught my eye were the small ones like the Suzuki Jimny and the Daihatsu Terios. The only mini-SUV that I had seen on road before was the mini Pajero. I am not sure if these vehicles would be as much fun to drive as the mini Pajero that has a 2.8 litre engine, as compared to the 1.5 litre (approx.) engines that these have, but I definitely like the look of them.
Among the saloons (sedans) and hatch-backs that I saw in Nepal, some of Kia Motors' and Daihatsu's products looked really cute!
I also wondered why Hino has not launched its products in India, so far.
Another thing on wheels that I saw in Nepal and wished that it would soon be launched in India was the ubiquitous trail- or dirt-bike. Since the kind of surfaces that one often has to ride over in the Indian sub-continent quite closely resemble those on a motocross track, I am sure riding these bikes would be a lot of fun. I remember a couple of such models being displayed by Bajaj Auto during a recent Auto Expo, but these were never launched in the market for some reason or the other. I recall that one of these was to have a liquid-cooled 250cc engine.
I was also impressed by the medium-sized vans (mainly Toyotas, as seen in the photograph I have posted along with this blog entry) that are used for public transport in the capital city of Kathmandu. These seemed like luxury vehicles, when I tried to compare these with the run-down buses and mini buses used to ferry common folk in Indian cities, towns and villages.