How a Rickshaw Driver Impressed an IIT Graduate to Construct India’s First E-Rickshaw


In the summertime of 2010, Vijay Kapoor, an entrepreneur, was driving a cycle rickshaw in New Delhi’s bustling Chandni Chowk market. Throughout this journey, Vijay noticed how exhausting the rickshaw puller needed to work by means of the congested lanes of Chandni Chowk, which was not commensurate with the cash being paid to hold the passengers.
(Above the picture of the primary Mayuri e-rickshaw mannequin)

Given his decades-long expertise promoting components to an Indian vehicle producer as an entrepreneur, he needed to develop a product that may make life simpler for rickshaw pullers.

“Whereas speaking to those rickshaw pullers in Chandni Chowk and Sadar Bazar, I got here to know concerning the pathetic situations they had been working in as a result of unhealthy climate and extreme bodily labour. Seeing his situation I assumed we should always do one thing for him,” mentioned 73-year-old Vijay Kapoor. higher india,

Throughout this era, Vijay additionally traveled to China, the place he noticed a really crude mannequin of the loader. Taking again the motor utilized in that mannequin, he returned to India, and designed an e-rickshaw, “protecting in thoughts the consolation of Indian passengers and drivers, the peak at which an individual has to board the rickshaw ( approx 12 inches)”.

He designed all of the important components of an e-rickshaw, together with the entrance glass, “in accordance with the necessities of Indian riders, particularly rickshaw pullers, who mustn’t spend all this effort, whereas being eco-friendly and operational.” Ought to keep. A low operating price.” says Vijay.

Later that yr, the IIT-Kanpur graduate based Saera Electrical Auto Non-public Restricted (SEAPL), an e-mobility enterprise. In 2012, he manufactured the corporate’s first batch of Mayuri e-rickshaws. Some contemplate him to be the ‘father of e-rickshaw’, however what Vijay did was pioneer in manufacturing e-rickshaws on a big scale in India.

Vijay Kapoor was a pioneer in the mass manufacturing of e-rickshaws in India.
Vijay Kapoor (Picture courtesy Autocar Skilled)

previous is preface

Vital achievements in engineering are achieved on the premise of developments previously. Whereas Vijay took the lead in manufacturing the e-rickshaw, there was one other IIT-Kanpur alumnus who had constructed the primary one.

Dr Anil Kumar Rajvanshi is credited with creating the working electrical rickshaw from the Nimbkar Agricultural Analysis Institute (NARI) in Phaltan, Satara district of Maharashtra in 2000. He was awarded the Padma Shri earlier this yr.

He wrote in his guide ‘Romance of Innovation’ that regardless of some preliminary curiosity, nobody made the transfer to purchase and commercialize the design of his e-rickshaw from NARI. It should take a couple of extra years for an entrepreneur like Vijay to take the subsequent step.

After graduating from IIT-Kanpur in 1972, Vijay acquired into the enterprise of agriculture in Punjab.

“Initially, we had been importing mix harvester machines from Germany and customized hiring them in Punjab. As a result of anti-Sikh riots within the Eighties and the next troubles in Punjab, I moved to Delhi the place I started manufacturing components for mix harvester machines, which I then started exporting. Throughout this time I additionally got here in touch with the suppliers of Maruti. I had many mates from IIT-Kanpur who had been working there at the moment,” recollects Vijay.

He remembers studying rather a lot concerning the automotive enterprise. That have will play a key function of their bid to fabricate and promote e-rickshaws in India.

“In 2011, we began with a quite simple mannequin, which took us a couple of yr and a half to develop. Initially, there was no infrastructure out there to fabricate or function e-rickshaws. For instance, nobody was keen to make tires for e-rickshaws, so we needed to develop our personal. There was no vendor in India manufacturing e-rickshaw batteries. We had to offer some technical information to 3rd social gathering distributors, displaying easy methods to assemble the battery pack and charger. At this time, the infrastructure is offered to fabricate e-rickshaws,” says Vijay.

Inside the manufacturing plant that Vijay Kapoor set up to make his first e-rickshaw
Contained in the SEAPL Manufacturing Plant

Constructing an e-mobility ecosystem

Initially, the batteries out there at the moment weren’t appropriate to be used in e-rickshaws as a result of. By way of design, they had been utterly completely different and weren’t appropriate to be used with e-rickshaws.

“We began with a 35Ah lead acid battery, which gave us round 30-40km on a single cost with a charging time of 8 hours. At this time our e-rickshaws use a 130 Ampere Lithium-Ion battery, Whose charging time is simply two hours, which supplies us a spread of 100 km on a single cost. This enchancment in battery vary gives a good earnings to former rickshaw pullers who’ve transitioned to electrical. Over time, we’ve Improved battery design to go well with the aims. Our lithium-ion battery right now offers us a three-year guarantee, whereas the lead-acid battery we first put in gave us only one yr,” he recollects.

“Even for the axle, which we designed, we needed to set up superb bearings to make sure little or no friction in order that the car may give us extra kilometres. The most important downside for the Indian market was that once we made an e-rickshaw for 2 individuals, the drivers had been seating 4 individuals. After we made it for 4 individuals, they sat six. We needed to commonly redesign the primary chassis. With the chassis out there right now, these e-rickshaws can carry extra masses. Within the final two years, now our e-rickshaw has not discovered any fault with the chassis.

SEAPL additionally redesigned the tires required for e-rickshaws, which right now have a shelf lifetime of 50-60K kms, as in opposition to solely 2 months earlier as a result of various masses.

SAEPL e-rickshaw began with 500W motor, whereas right now they’re utilizing 1200W motor. With a 500W motor, the rickshaw struggled to climb the slopes. Additionally, SAEPL was importing motor from China. Getting the seller to revamp it for Indian situations was a tedious course of and the motor design went by means of 5 to six iterations earlier than being at the moment employed.

“One other necessary issue was that e-rickshaws ought to be economical for the rickshaw puller. What they earn means rather a lot to me. So we took 4 and 6 seater e-rickshaw in order that they will earn good cash. At this time, a few of our e-rickshaw drivers earn round Rs 1,200 to 1,500 per day. The wear and tear and tear is minimal, whereas the upkeep price is minimal. They’ll put aside simply Rs 100 on daily basis to cowl these prices,” he claims.

Nonetheless, it took nearly 8 months to promote his first e-rickshaw.

“Nobody was prepared to purchase one. I used to take my granddaughters to highschool in an e-rickshaw to promote it. After 8 months, there was an previous woman who purchased my e-rickshaw for her son however gave me solely half the cash. Later, that girl will purchase 6 extra e-rickshaws from me,” recollects Vijay.

However one of many largest hurdles for Vijay and SEAPL at the moment was the shortage of guidelines and rules for these e-rickshaws on the highway.

“We can’t drive any car on our roads with out approval from RTO (Highway Transport Workplace) and rigorous testing from companies like ICAT (Worldwide Heart for Automotive Expertise). At the moment, ICAT didn’t have any guidelines or rules for electrical rickshaws” he says.

In the end there was a committee arrange by the Authorities of India, headed by Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, which selected all of the parameters together with pace, quantity of torque within the motors, and extra precautions wanted to forestall water from getting into the monsoon season. automobiles, the quantity of load they will safely carry, and so forth.

All these testing companies are performed by ICAT, however the guidelines and rules are set by the federal government. “As business stakeholders, we gave them our suggestions. A invoice to regularize e-rickshaws and supply driving licenses for battery-operated automobiles was launched within the Lok Sabha in December 2014 and later handed by each the homes. These guidelines and rules had been then handed on to the RTO involved and all authorized issues had been addressed. By the point these legal guidelines got here into power, I had offered over 5,000 e-rickshaws. That was the most important authorized downside for me. This was lastly addressed with the passage of the Motor Autos Modification Invoice, 2014,” recollects Vijay.

When these rules had been formally legalized, they elevated manufacturing. Initially, Vijay had a small plant in Gurugram, which was manufacturing 20 automobiles a day. Thereafter they shifted the bottom to an even bigger plant in Bhiwadi, Rajasthan and right now they’re manufacturing round 170-200 e-rickshaws per day.

“It offers me nice pleasure to see e-rickshaws on the highway right now. It was a dream that got here true. However earlier than us an enormous vehicle producer introduced electrical two-wheeler, which flopped. Anybody who purchased their electrical two-wheeler ultimately ended up not utilizing it as a result of they could not service it. After we offered e-rickshaws, we additionally confronted this downside,” he says.

However after working within the vehicle sector for almost three many years, he understood what was needed. SEAPL primarily laid emphasis on servicing and availability of spares.

“Within the areas the place my e-rickshaws had been offered, we are going to prepare a mechanic on easy methods to service them and make sure that they by no means run wanting spare components. We had been profitable due to immediate service. Sadly, the massive corporations that made a splash earlier didn’t take these components under consideration once they manufactured electrical two-wheelers,” he says.

Current model of Mayuri e-rickshaw.
Present Mannequin of Mayuri E-Rickshaw

The EV ecosystem has come a good distance since then. Main markets in areas similar to Karol Bagh and Kashmere Gate right now have many outlets carrying spare components for electrical automobiles. There are various gamers who’ve entered the enterprise in India by making components for e-rickshaws.

At this time, SEAPL is within the arms of his son Nitin Kapoor, and Mayuri e-rickshaw is among the finest promoting manufacturers on this class. In the meantime, Vijay has moved to different locations similar to hydroponics and is at the moment engaged on a “new undertaking” regardless of his age.

Further Sources:

‘A New Cost to E-Rickshaw Producers’ by Mayank Dhingra; Revealed 17 Might 2017 Courtesy Autocar Skilled

‘Historical past of Electrical Rickshaw in Nari’ (Chapter from the guide “Romance of Innovation”) by Anil Okay. Rajvanshi

‘The Story of the E-Rickshaw: The Arrival of Electrical Mobility in India Was Deliberate’ by Akshima Ghate, Dimpy Suneja; Courtesy of Vitality and Assets Institute Revealed 01 February 2018

(Edited by Yoshita Rao)


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