Electric Rickshaw: A growing mode of Urban Transport

Electric-Rickshaw or E-Rickshaw

If you are in Delhi, you must have seen or even traveled in a battery operated three-wheeler. Yes, I am talking about the commonly known “E-rickshaws” which have been growing on large scale especially in Delhi. They have been in news for the past three- four months for taking them into the Central Motor Vehicle Rules Act.

These vehicles were banned by Supreme Court on July 31, 2014 based on a public interest litigation filed mainly due to safety reasons. They were considered illegal as per existing laws and asked Ministry of Road, Transport and Highways to frame rules in order to regulate these vehicles. The Govt. has come up with draft notification on October 8, 2014 by making necessary amendments in the Central motor Vehicle Rules Act. We will go through the basic configuration of these vehicles and the new notification of Rules issued by Ministry of Road, Transport and Highways.

The E-rickshaws are three wheeler, battery operated vehicles. They allow easy mobility to the urban commuters from one location to another similar to an existing auto-rickshaw. However they are powered by electric motor unlike the existing petrol or diesel auto rickshaws. Thus they represent an environment friendly mode of transport and require charging of the battery everyday for their running. These vehicles came into the market especially in Delhi and started doing a good job of commuting people and increased day by day.

Thousands of people started commuting in E-Rickshaws but due to safety aspects it was banned in Delhi. There were around 1,00,000 (ie. a lakh ) E-Rickshaws on Delhi roads which represents a huge number and also provides a livelihood to thousands of people in the city. Now as the rules have come, these vehicles will be seen soon on the roads in a legal manner like other vehicles.

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A typical E-Rickshaw (Source: google.com)

Now looking at the technical specifications of E-Rickshaws, first the frame or chassis is simpler and is made of steel. It is a rear drive vehicle with differential. The vehicle is powered by a brush less motor of 48V, 250W to 800W capacity. It is also equipped with reverse gear. The top speed is limited to 25 kmph. The wheel base varies around 2m and height is around 1.8 m. The gradient capacity is around 15- 20 degrees and is installed with hand brake for parking. A foot brake pedal in the front can be seen similar to existing auto rickshaws. The vehicle weighs around 200 kg and 4 -5 people can be seated comfortably in it, excluding the driver. The battery used for running the motor is of Lead-Acid type and has a capacity of around 12V, 20Ah. The electronic controller allows the smooth running of the electric drive train.

Commonly four batteries can be seen in the vehicle and can be charged at home with an input Voltage of 220V, 50Hz. On full charging, the vehicle can go up to 100 kms. The steering system is of handle type as in any conventional rickshaws. Hydraulic Shock Absorbers in the front suspension and leaf springs in the rear suspension can be seen. They have a ground clearance of around 300 mm. The roof of the vehicle is covered with fiber or plastic to protect passengers in rainy season.  Most of these vehicles are assembled in India and all the parts are getting imported from China. All the technical things are kept as simpler as possible and the aim is to commute maximum people at low cost. The cost of these battery operated vehicles range from Rs.85, 000 to Rs 1, 25,000. With its success stories, small commercial vehicles with Electric Power-train can also be seen.

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People Travelling in E-Rickshaw in Delhi (Source: google.com)

The new notification from the Government has come for legal running of these vehicles. The notification has limited a certain range for length, height and width dimensions. It has limited the power of the motor upto 2000W. Keeping safety in mind, it also ensures availability of horn, brake lights, reverse lights, head lamps on the vehicle.  The braking capability of vehicle should be good to avoid any accidents. The top speed should not go above 25 kmph. The electrical circuit layout, seating capacity of the passengers, hand holds inside the passenger cabin are made mandatory according to the rules. All these things will be necessary for any manufacturer to get their E-Rickshaw approved by test agencies.

Conclusion:

These vehicles definitely have the potential to come up in a much larger scale and with notifications coming for legalizing them, this can be a pushing force to come up with a quality product which is eco-friendly, safe and comfortable for the commuters. National Electric Mobility Mission Plan from Government can even allow subsidies in this field to the buyers and this will be an important step in providing this facility at a higher level to the people. Keeping all points in mind, these vehicles can make themselves an excellent mode of urban transport at low cost and higher efficiency.