Visitors to the Thiruvananthapuram zoo can look forward to a pollution-free ride in brand new battery-operated electric vehicles, which will be launched soon.

Minister for Tourism A.P. Anil Kumar joined the zoo officials for a test drive of the new 14-seater vehicle at a demo drive held on the zoo premises on Friday.

Speaking to media persons after the test drive, the Minister said that the vehicles, said to be eco-friendly and non-polluting, were well suited for use in the zoo as they did not cause any noise or air pollution. The main aim was to help elderly visitors to the zoo, who earlier had to depend on wheelchairs, and provide them a comfortable ride.

When the battery is fully charged, the vehicle can cover up to 110 km at a maximum speed of 55 km/hr and the operational cost comes to just 75 paisa a km. Additional plug-in devices can be used to programme the vehicle to control the speed. The vehicle costs between Rs.5 lakh and Rs.15 lakh depending on the model, which ranges from 4 to 14 seater.

The vehicles are manufactured by a Chennai-based company and is promoted and marketed in the State through the Small Industries Development Corporation.

P. Gopi, an official of the company, said that similar vehicles were supplied to the Hyderabad zoo and Delhi airport. The company had supplied the vehicles to States such as Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand and Karnataka.

The vehicles could be used to transport people and cargo. Additional facilities such as audio guide could be provided in the vehicle if needed, he said.

The zoo officials are yet to decide on the number of vehicles to be purchased and the ticket rate for the same.

“We need a minimum of four vehicles. The number of vehicles and cost of tickets are still under negotiation and will be finalised in two weeks,” said zoo Director K. Udayavarman.