Battery-operated and Chinese-made, these new rickshaws could well be the eco-friendly and cost-effective alternative to the fuel-guzzling polluters

For commuters who are stuck between smoke-spewing autos and overloaded city buses, an initiative by some entrepreneurs promises to bring in a whiff of fresh air. The entry of battery-operated rickshaws might just provide that crucial, environmental-friendly link to last-mile connectivity from outlying colonies to major centres.

The China-made rickshaws, known for their eco-friendly nature, are now taking over the city roads. A handful of vehicles are already plying on certain routes in the south of the city, providing an alternative to auto-rickshaws and manual rickshaws.

These vehicles can accommodate four persons (or 300 kilograms of weight) and operate at a speed of 20 km per hour on a single charge of its 48W battery.

“One has to charge the batteries for eight hours,” says D. Pramod Kumar, a dealer at Attapur. This would consume three units of electricity – a cost of Rs.20 – and can last the rickshaw for 80 kilometres.

The vehicles are priced between Rs.80,000 and Rs.1 lakh, and are available in five different colours in the passenger and cargo segments.

Drivers mostly operate the vehicles on sharing basis.

“We charge Rs.5 to Rs.10 for a distance of three kilometres. Four persons, or six children, can be accommodated at a time,” a driver says.

“We are happy experimenting with this new form of transport,” Azhar, a daily wager says.

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