CEED releases report on mainstreaming E-rickshaws for urban mobility

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Report highlights lack of clean energy charging infrastructure as a big challenge

On 4th December 2017, CEED released a report titled ‘De-fossilising the Urban Public Mobility: Mainstreaming the E-rickshaw’ in Lucknow. The report primarily explores the social and environmental benefits of mainstreaming e-rickshaws on a large scale to improve last-mile connectivity and reduce air pollution in the urban mobility sector. The report not only encapsulates the benefits of switching to e-rickshaw, but also identifies key concerns and challenges faced by e-rickshaws with respect to battery charging infrastructure.

CEED conducted a comprehensive market research on e-rickshaws with an approach to opening new avenues for the future of electric mobility in the country, especially keeping in mind the government’s ambitious target of setting up an all-electric fleet by 2030. The study reveals that e-rickshaws can be the real game-changers in the recent future by making sustainable public transport for last-mile connectivity. E-rickshaws can be pitched as an alternative to auto-rickshaws that will curb the rapid rise of air pollution; while also provide a cost-effective and affordable mobility solution to the consumer.

Talking about the urgent need to switch to e-mobility in India, Clean Energy Manager at CEED, Mr. Anand P. Pathanjali, said, “E-rickshaws not just provide an alternate mobility solution that is cleaner and more cost-effective, but also create new jobs, reduce oil import dependance, achieve more efficient land use in cities, improve public health by significantly lowering the air pollution, among others.” Further discussing the challenges faced by the sector in Lucknow, he said, “There are about 40,000 e-rickshaws in Lucknow alone, and due to no formalised regulation in place, only 20% of them are registered. Consequently there has not been any significant technological development in the e-rickshaw market. It is distressing that these vehicles still run on the inefficient lead acid batteries and lack several safety standards.”

The report identifies lack of charging infrastructure as one of the biggest challenges for e-rickshaws,  along with a host of other challenges related to its technology, safety and design. Inefficient battery charging leads to shortage of income and financial debt for drivers.

Elaborating further about the issue of charging infrastructure, Mr. Abhishek Pratap, Director-Programmes at CEED elucidated that, “Until a charging infrastructure based on clean sustainable energy like solar energy is not created for e-rickshaws and other upcoming electric vehicles, pitching it as a solution to rising air pollution in urban landscape is a misplaced notion. Decentralised charging stations based on solar should be set up at key strategic locations in cities.”

There are two types of battery charging infrastructures- Battery swap system and Decentralized Charging stations, as suggested in the report.

Owing to the alarming levels of pollution in the Indo-Gangetic region, the switch from conventional modes of transport based on Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) to the electric vehicles is more a necessity than a choice.

In order to achieve multi-pronged benefits of the electric vehicles, in terms of curbing air pollution, skill development, and encouraging affordable mobility solutions, it is important that various stakeholders realise their roles to accomplish the task of establishing a successful e-rickshaw market.