Solar powered E-Rickshaws hit Kochi roads

The Kerala government is incorporating various solar projects at a very fast pace. After the recent inauguration of dam-top solar project in Wayanad district, the solar powered rickshaws also received approval.

A small pilot project, started by Georgekutty Kariyanappally, the E-rickshaw powered by solar energy have been started in the city of Kochi, Kerala. The project comes at time where a few major cities in India have sanctioned the use of electric rickshaws. This project will surely bring a new breath of fresh air.

The brain behind this innovation, Mr. Georgekutty Kariyanappally implies a strong point about the excessive pollution through conventional vehicles and autos inspired him to create a vehicle that would use renewable energy and have no carbon emissions.

Mr. Kariyanappally have been an ardent supporter of solar power where he spent the last 16 years in creating products such as a solar poultry incubator and a solar cow milking machine. He thinks that his latest venture, the solar rickshaw, is going to help the working class and will also be a non-polluting source of transport. His main intention is to have a single mini public transport system as a feeder passenger vehicle for metro stations.

Solar-E-Rickshaw
Solar-E-Rickshaw

Apart from being ecofriendly, the vehicle is cost-effective. “I had discussions with many auto-rickshaw drivers in Kochi and found that they are hiring an auto for 12 hours at the rate of Rs 250 from auto owners. Then again, they require Rs 250 for diesel to ply for approximately 80 to 100 km a day. So per km, they charge Rs 10 from passengers,” said Kariyanappally. “At the end of the day, after spending Rs 500, they manage to save Rs 500 for their family.”

“The solar rickshaw is available at Rs 125,000. With a solar panel of 250 watts, the rickshaw, when stationary can be charged. Once they are on the run, they can use the battery. The local Grameen banks are willing to give them a loan with 5% interest. The local government can give carbon credits to rickshaw owners and a subsidy of around 50% can be easily worked out. As per my calculations, a solar rickshaw driver can easily earn Rs 1,000 in a day. The only expense he will need to incur is the cost of maintaining the vehicle, which is also negligible.”

The project have started with 16 solar rickshaws, servicing the people of Kochi. Also, an order for 100 such vehicles from Elite Foods, a bakery in Trichur, have been accepted. There is a lot of interest and the vehicle will be customised as per consumer needs.

Mr. Kariyanappally believes that solar rickshaw will get more popular and will help improve India’s public transport system in a very big way. With the government now planning to provide free charging stations for battery operated vehicles, the future of e-rickshaws appears secure.