City-based Sri Bhanu Silks and Services promotes the vehicles

A new avatar of auto-rickshaw has hit the city roads. People waiting for bus at a bus stand on Eluru Road on Friday saw a glimpse of the new moving machine operated on battery. Painted in blue, the four-seater passenger-friendly vehicle pulled up in front of the bus stop and instantly became an object of public curiosity. In appearance, it looks like a cross between a cycle rickshaw and an auto-rickshaw.

Enticed by the ‘eco-friendly’ mantra, a city-based company Sri Bhanu Silks and Services, has rolled out these e-rickshaws to promote the vehicle.

“In Delhi, more than 80,000 e-rickshaws race along the roads catering to the milling crowds’ transport needs. The best thing about this vehicle is that it’s eco-friendly since it does not need fossil fuels like petrol, diesel or CNG. It runs on a battery. The fact that there is no engine attached to the vehicle contributes to a pollution-free commuting,” says N. Guru Gopinath of the company.

The new vehicle, he says, was formally flagged off by YSR Congress leader Vangaveeti Radhakrishna on February 6.

The company is operating four vehicles in different routes to let local people know about it. Boards displaying phone numbers of the company are affixed to the vehicles.

“People have started making enquiries and the new features apparently are attracting their fancy,” he says.

The cost of the rickshaw is pegged at Rs.1.2 lakh and many auto-rickshaw drivers are said to be showing interest mainly because of its low cost of maintenance.

“E-rickshaw is a safe bet to transport schoolchildren because its optimum speed is 25 kmph. Yet another major advantage is that the buyer is spared of the registration and permit needs.

For a mileage of 80 km per charging cycle, all you need to do is charge the vehicle for eight hours and it consumes bare minimum electricity,” says Mr. Gopinath.

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