Puneet Varma (Editor)

Electric rickshaw

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Electric rickshaw

Electric rickshaws (also known as electric tuk-tuks or e-rickshaws) have been becoming more popular in some cities since 2008 as an alternative to auto rickshaws and pulled rickshaws because of their low fuel cost, and less human effort compared to pulled rickshaws. They are being widely accepted as an alternative to petrol/diesel/CNG auto rickshaws. They are 3 wheelers pulled by an electric motor ranging from 650-1400  Watts. They are mostly manufactured in India and China, only a few other countries manufacture these vehicles. Battery-run rickshaws could be a low-emitter complementary transport for the low-income people, who suffer most from a lack of transport facility, if introduced in a systematic manner according to experts.


Evolution of electric vehicles

The electric automobile did not easily develop into a viable means of transportation. Research waned from 1920-1960 until environmental issues of pollution and diminishing natural resources reawakened the need of a more environmentally friendly means of transportation. Technologies that support a reliable battery and the weight of the needed number of batteries elevated the price of making an electric vehicle. In 1837, Robert Davidson of Scotland appears to have been the builder of the first electric car, but it wasn't until the 1890s that electric cars were manufactured and sold in Europe and America. During the late 1890s, United States roads were populated by more electric automobiles than those with internal combustion engines.

Design and construction

These rickshaws have a M.S(Mild Steel) tubular Chassis, consist of 3 wheels with a differential mechanism at rear wheels. The motor is brushless DC motor manufactured mostly in India and China. The electrical system used in Indian version is 48V and Bangladesh is 60V. The body design from most popular Chinese version is of very thin iron or aluminum sheets. Vehicles made in fiber are also popular because of their strength and durability, resulting in low maintenance, especially in India. Body design is varied from load carriers, passenger vehicles with no roof, to full body with windshield for drivers comfort It consist of a controller unit.They are sold on the basis of voltage supplied and current output, also the number of mosfet(metal oxide field effect transistor) used. The battery used is mostly lead acid battery with life of 6–12 months. Deep discharge batteries designed for electric vehicles are rarely used. Weight of the electric car has also been a recurring design difficulty in them.

Load carriers

These are load carrying versions of these rickshaws differ in their upper body, load carrying capacity, motor power, controller and other structural aspects, sometimes motor power is also increased in order to carry loads up to 500–1000 kg.


There are two types of solar vehicles:

  • Directly solar-powered - fitted with solar panels
  • Hence a directly solar-powered rickshaw would be an electric auto rickshaw driven solely by one or more electric motors, powered by solar panels mounted on the vehicle and capable of operating while the vehicle is in motion. Theoretically, solar panels could provide power directly to the motor(s) without the need for batteries, but in reality this would be an improbable design choice for a rickshaw, given its intended purpose. In e-rickshaws, however solar panels are not effective and are not frequently used.

    In practice, the term solar rickshaw is most commonly used to describe battery-electric rickshaws whose batteries are indirectly solar-charged (i.e. independently from the vehicle) prior to use. This is usually facilitated by removing batteries in need of charging from the vehicle, and exchanging them for batteries which have already been charged. Alternatively, batteries can be charged in-situ while the vehicle is parked, although this may limit daytime usage. The exact same battery replacement and in-situ methods are of course also used for non-'solar' batteries and vehicles.


    Electric rickshaws are most popular in Asia. The low cost Chinese version being the first to show up on streets. They are mostly used in China, India, Bangladesh and Nepal, also in low numbers other parts of Asia they have been showing up. China, Japan, India, and European countries (Switzerland, France, Germany) have researched and developed electric tricycles for commercial transport and are attempting to capture the growing market in Asia. Government has made efforts though to run them and made plans to issue licences on a fee of 1.5tk but there has been no action on this matter to date.


    Bangladesh imports electric rickshaws directly from China or via other countries, the well established cities prefer them as cheaper and better means of transport. The government in an inter-ministerial meeting on May 5 banned import and assembly of the vehicles and decided to send off-road those already plying, primarily on the ground that it consumes electricity mostly through illegal connections.


    China is the largest manufacturer of electric rickshaws in the world, due to low labor cost, high production rates and encouraging government policies on foreign trade they import a large number on daily basis.


    One of the first attempt to design electric rickshaws was done by Nimbkar Agricultural Research Institute in late 1990s. They modified the cycle rickshaw and then converted to an electric one. In India they are popularly known as e-rickshaws and are widely spread all over India. They started to gain popularity in India since 2011.The design is now much different from cycle rickshaws. They have provided with service to city and has also contribution in providing livelihood to people in India. Due to their low cost and high efficiency they are accepted on the Indian streets, but government policies have been threatening the e-rickshaw and banned them in the capital city Delhi, but due to increase in number failed to put them off the streets. They are still widely used in Delhi and other parts of India. In Delhi, as per government official's figures in April 2012, the number was over 100,000.

    In India almost all claimed to be manufacturing the vehicle are merely importing it from China and assembling them. Though the manufacturers in India are less in number, manufacturers claim that in the vehicle production is less and cost is a little at higher but they offer higher quality products and also offer services and warranty, these manufacturers market the product as an Indian make and are also popular because of uniqueness in their product and providing a branded better quality product.

    The FRP body e-rickshaws are also popular in India and are manufactured in India due to high shipment cost from China they are cheaper to Indian manufacturers, where a Chinese version of FRP Rickshaw will cost 1.5 times more than an Indian make.

    There are issues with services due to lack of established companies and just about everyone importing and selling them from China, resulting in problems to their customers, this is the reason consumers have started gaining knowledge and prefer more durable versions from well-established companies and Indian manufacturers.

    E-rickshaw law in India

    Initially e-rickshaws were unregulated by any central law in India. However, the Delhi High Court, banned running of e-rickshaws in Delhi on 31 July 2014, over safety concerns raised through a public interest litigation. In a rally held for regularization of e rickshaws in Delhi transport minister Nitin Gadkari said that "municipal corporations would regularize e-rickshaws by registering them for a fee of just Rs.100. After registering the e-rickshaw, corporations will have to issue identity cards to drivers so they can earn their livelihood easily." Once the policy was in place, the corporation, along with traffic police, would have fix the amount of fine to be imposed for violation of the policy. However, the policy was never implemented. Certain states like Tripura had regularised the e-rickshaws through municipal bylaws or through state legislation. In March 2015, the Indian Parliament passed an amendment to the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2015 legalizing E-Rickshaws. By July 2015 Battery Rickshaw are available for travel in many cities, now certified to ply with Registration No. plate by R.T.O. with insurance.


    Electric rickshaw Wikipedia

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