Solar-powered rickshaw photo: Cleantech
While it is easily possible to argue about the human rights aspect of pedal-powered rickshaws (there’s certainly a bit of difference in the type of people involved in the biz in India compared to their limited use in the United States...), there’s no denying that from an environmental perspective they’re a better form of transport than burning fossil fuels.
Enter, the Soleckshaw: A cycle rickshaw with an electric assist, charged at solar-powered charging stations, which it is hoped will both reduce the physical burden on its driver (still called a ‘puller’, after the old rickshaw simply pulled by a man) as well as the environmental burden of burning more fossil fuels if cycle rickshaws were eliminated altogether. Here are the details:
Batteries Need Charging Every 45 Miles
The Soleckshaw seats three people and go at a maximum speed of 12.5 mph, has an electric light, FM radio and mobile phone charger. The rickshaw’s 36-volt battery need is charged every six of seven hours (or about 45 miles of riding) from solar powered charging stations.
Initial Cost May be Prohibitive
One hurdle in getting these on the road will be cost: At a price of Rs22,000 (compared to Rs8,500) for a non-electric cycle rickshaw micro loans are likely to be needed for drivers to be able to afford them.
The Soleckshaw’s developer, the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research, has indicated that a loan program will be put in place that will allow drivers to pay back the purchase price at a rate similar to that which they already are likely paying to rent their current rickshaw.
We Need Renewably Powered Auto Rickshaws Too
Now, if we could just get some all-electric renewably powered auto-rickshaws out there too...
More at: Times Online and Cleantech
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