First deployed in India in 2011, in the national capital, Delhi in 2014, e-rickshaws have come a long way in the country. Now as we look at the post-pandemic world, and focus on addressing the sustainable commute challenge e-vehicles, e-rickshaws, or ‘battery rickshaws’ as they are often called, are at the forefront. In less than a decade since the e-rickshaws were introduced, their number across India has crossed the 1.5 million mark and is rapidly growing.
The popularity of e-rickshaws has rapidly grown across India due to their ability to carry up to 4 passengers with greater comfort, less human labor, and zero emissions.
Since they don’t consume costly and polluting conventional fuels, e-rickshaws are more economical to operate even when compared to CNG-powered auto rickshaws.
In major cities like Delhi, e-rickshaws have emerged as a source of livelihood for drivers and their families, and a sustainable as well as a low-cost commute for low-income to lower middle-class commuters. The salient features of e-rickshaws are:
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The top 5 Benefits of Electric Rickshaws are:
Zero pollution –
E-rickshaws have proven to be a great last-mile commute solution for Indian roads. At present, CNG-driven autos are considered to be the cleaner local commute solution. However, powered by batteries, e-rickshaws are a zero-pollution option. Even if we were to replace the existing CNG autos with e-rickshaws, it would amount to a reduction of 1,036.6 tonnes of CO2 emissions daily(or 378,357 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually). Not only that, they don’t cause noise pollution, the way autos do.
Cheaper and better–
E-rickshaws are significantly cheaper than the conventional last mile solutions such as autos which are the second most affordable mass mobility option. An e-rickshaw can be purchased for about INR 1 lakh whereas an ICE-based auto could cost up to 3 lakh depending on the state where it is purchased.
Powered by batteries that can be charged at a charging station or swapped at a battery swapping station, e-rickshaws are easier to operate and maintain than conventional autorickshaws.
E-rickshaws are lower than the conventional pedal rickshaw and with their gravity being closer to the ground, they prove to have a smoother turning and ride experience. It makes them ideal for crowded and heavy traffic urban roads as well as bumpy and narrow rural roads.
Greater earning potential –
E-rickshaws not only contribute to the cause of sustainability but also the socio-economic growth of e-rickshaw drivers and their families. With the low cost of operations, e-rickshaw drivers can earn more than a normal rickshaw puller and with greater comfort. Now with the rise of battery swapping services, e-rickshaw drivers are also able to overcome range anxiety as they can swap discharged batteries at a swapping station and get back to the road within a few minutes.
The future of electric rickshaws in India
In the initial days, e-rickshaws were being imported, but now they are being manufactured domestically. Several OEMs are producing highly advanced Lithium-ion batteries and the ecosystem is growing rapidly.
The biggest challenge that e-rickshaws faced in the early years was range anxiety and a lack of adequate charging infrastructure. However, with the rapid expansion of battery swapping networks, it is now becoming increasingly possible for e-rickshaw drivers to drive into the nearest swapping station, get the depleted battery replaced with a fully charged one, and get back on road within minutes.
The Government of India has also set the wheels in motion for announcing a National Battery Swapping Policy which will further accelerate the adoption of EVs (the majority of which are e-rickshaws) across the country. Thus, the future of e-rickshaws in India is quite bright!
Mr. Varun Goenka, CEO and Co-Founder, Chargeup
Varun Goenka is the CEO and Co-Founder of Chargeup, Bharat’s largest battery swapping network for e-rickshaws. He leads all the operations, team building, marketing strategy, and dealer development functions with his team of professionals.
Varun started the company in 2019 with the aim of improving the livelihood of over 2.4 million e-rickshaw drivers in India.
The startup enables 2-minute battery swapping through its technology platform and network of battery swapping stations, thereby increasing the revenue of drivers by 150%. Varun aspires to increase the number of battery swaps to over 300,000 a month by March 2022 and set up 3000 swapping hubs by 2024.