Welcome to the Age of e-empowerment through electric rickshaws
Days go by, with the regular man’s commute to his 9-5 job, back and forth in cycles to feed our families and sustain our homes, but not much thought is spared towards the roads we take, and the livelihoods of the other people who’s income relies on getting you to where you need to be. The Last Mile is coined as the part of the journey that gets you, the passenger, to his final destination, from a shared point of commute or services of public transport, such as buses and metro lines. This is where auto-rickshaws come into play, and have a key role in this section of transport, being the most popular and convenient option for commuters. But petrol and diesel-run rickshaws are a major investment, and the profit margin after maintenance and fuel costs give most men second thoughts when they have two more mouths to feed. A manual rickshaw is too much of a physical restraint, while also being a very cheap and slow means of transport, and it seldom fetches the owner enough money after maintenance to run the house. This is where Electric Rickshaws come into the picture.
A much more economical and environment-friendly alternative to the petrol and diesel-run rickshaws, the E-Rickshaws are now gaining popularity because how much easier it is to maintain and run, along with its various other benefits. On average, investments in cycle rickshaws include around 400 a month for maintenance, and 300 for rent, while they’re paid only 800-1000 rupees every month, which is a very low margin of profit for anyone. And while a diesel or petrol rickshaw can go for long distances and reach higher speeds at ease, thus allowing the drivers to charge higher rates(on average, they make 300 a day, but locations and routes play a huge factor), the price for fuel, their economy, and maintenance can be cumbersome, along with most rides requiring return trips with no passengers, which is simply burning fuel, it can often negate their earnings. (Having an average energy consumption cost of 0.62 rupees per person per kilometre according to a study in West Bengal) The initial price of these rickshaws being at around 2 lakhs give most people second thought too. An E- rickshaw counters a lot of these issues, with a much lower investment cost, easy maintenance, and a much lower energy consumption rate (0.096 rupees per passenger per kilometre). Refuelling is never an issue too and is normally included in the household electricity bill. There are much fewer formalities with regards to operating an E-rickshaw that someone who isn’t fortunate enough to have a background in education can look to as a profession, while it’s a much more tedious process in diesel and petrol run autos. In general, E-rickshaws are much preferred and are a safer profession for lower-class drivers.
But there is the initial problem of investment, where many are hesitant to take the leap and buy an E-rickshaw, and start their work, considering the adolescent nature of this business where not much is known. Or is it? Many start-ups have found such people, and have given them the encouragement, and the capital required to take this leap. They pay the money back in loans which they pay monthly and can clear out in a year. And after this, they will never have to worry about the loan biting a chunk out of their salary thanks to the surplus from not having to spend as much on fuel and maintenance, while still earning as much as petrol and diesel-run rickshaw drivers. Initiatives such as PNB Green Ride, SMV Green Solutions, RevFin ties with Saera electricals, Three Wheels United India Private Ltd. Etc help people get easier access to financial aid, along with knowledge on the benefits of E-rickshaws, and the many incentives this profession offers by itself. There is no longer any doubt in the minds of the lower class, and the ease of driving has encouraged many people, men and women from lower-class families to switch to E-rickshaws with this knowledge. The government has also proposed a 100% E-rickshaw possibility by 2030.
Unfortunately, the E-rickshaw isn’t flawless, and there are some drawbacks. But they aren’t as major as one would consider. The rickshaws are very light at the moment, and topple easily if overloaded and travelling faster than it’s regulated speed. It also has a top speed of 25 km/hr, because of its lightweight. There are governmental regulations for the same now, and developments are being made the increase the top speed for the rickshaws, making the motors more efficient, and heavier while having better battery capacities, all while having the same affordability for people of the lower cast. The profits do substantially outweigh the fallbacks and don’t stop most workers from switching to the more efficient E-rickshaw. As long as one responsibly drives his rickshaw with these regulations in mind, the business will always look very profitable, and this is from the word of many rickshaw drivers who have switched to E-rickshaws and are now reaping the benefits. The market for this will only improve, along with the technology to tackle the current problems of lightweight and speed, and we won’t have to wait for long. With more support from the government, to look at this switchover as a green initiative, and the better income it provides lower-class families; this change is helping change our home, our country, for the better.