April 21, 2024

Rise of Eco-friendly Transportation: The Growth of E-Rickshaw in India

The transportation sector in India is undergoing a paradigm shift with eco-friendly options gaining popularity. One such sustainable mode of transportation that has seen exponential growth is the E-Rickshaw. Let us take a deeper look into the rising adoption of E-Rickshaw in India.

Emergence of E-Rickshaw
E-Rickshaw first emerged in the late 2000s as a means to provide last-mile connectivity in a cost-effective and environment-friendly manner. They are basically battery-powered versions of the conventional auto-Rickshaw or cycle-Rickshaw ubiquitous in Indian cities and towns. However, unlike cycle-Rickshaw which require manual human power, E-Rickshaw are driven by an electric motor. This makes them convenient to operate while reducing carbon emissions.

The initial models were quite basic with a simple lead-acid battery powering a small electric motor. Over the years, technology has advanced, and modern E-Rickshaw now have swappable lithium-ion batteries providing longer run-times of up to 80km on a single charge. Features like disk brakes, better suspension, and mobile charging ports have also been incorporated for comfort and safety of passengers.

Rising Popularity Among Commuters
E-Rickshaw have seen rising popularity as an affordable public transport option, especially in tier-2 and tier-3 cities as well as dense urban areas. Their compact size allows for easy navigation of narrow lanes while the all-electric power-train keeps fares low for passengers. An average 8-seater E-Rickshaw trip costs about Rs.10-15, much cheaper than autos, buses or other means of transport.

Their zero-emission credentials are also boosting adoption amid rising environmental consciousness. No loud noises or fumes make E-Rickshaw suitable for carrying school children, elderly and women safely. Even physically disabled people find it easier to board these vehicles. All these factors have led to over 50% annual sales growth in the E-Rickshaw segment over the past 5 years.

Cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad etc. now have hundreds of permitted E-Rickshaw routes catering to short-distance commuters. Dedicated parking spaces, mobile apps for booking rides, and integration with metro/bus services have boosted their user-friendliness. Favourable loan policies from banks and microfinance providers have also encouraged entrepreneurs to purchase E-Rickshaw for livelihood.

Challenges on the Road Ahead
While the future looks promising for E-Rickshaw, a few challenges still exist. Issues around traffic rules compliance, road-worthiness certification and driver training need attention to ensure passenger safety. Unregulated operations by fly-by-night operators is another area that demands monitoring and penalties.

Concerns have also been raised regarding use of low-quality imported batteries and electric kits affecting performance and reliability over the long run. This erodes customer trust and operational viability for owners. Lack of standardized testing and certification processes for E-Rickshaw is an infrastructural gap requiring the industry and government to come together on.

With a growing middle-class population and rapid urbanization, the last-mile connectivity market in India presents a huge opportunity for sustainable mobility solutions like E-Rickshaw. If promoted and regulated systematically with focus on quality, safety and skilling, they can play a defining role in reducing pollution and boosting employment. Both manufacturers and policymakers need to work collaboratively to realize the full promise of E-Rickshaw for environmentally-friendly yet economically-viable transportation across our cities.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it