In the summertime of 2010, Vijay Kapoor, an entrepreneur, was taking a journey on a cycle rickshaw within the bustling Chandni Chowk bazaar in New Delhi. Throughout this journey, Vijay observed the extraordinary effort it took for the rickshaw puller to navigate by the crowded lanes of Chandni Chowk, which wasn’t commensurate with the cash he was getting paid to ferry passengers.
(Above picture of the primary Mayuri e-rickshaw mannequin)
Given his decades-long expertise as an entrepreneur promoting elements to an Indian car producer, he needed to develop a product which might make the lives of rickshaw pullers simpler.
“Talking to those rickshaw pullers in Chandni Chowk and Sadar Bazar, I received a way of the depressing situations they had been working underneath given the intense climate and the extraordinary bodily labour required. Seeing their situation, I assumed we must always do one thing for them,” says the 73-year-old Vijay Kapoor, in a dialog with The Higher India.
Round this era, Vijay had additionally travelled 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 “making an allowance for the consolation of Indian passengers and drivers like the peak at which an individual has to get on the rickshaw (about 12 inches)”.
He designed all the mandatory parts of an e-rickshaw, together with the entrance glass “as per the necessities of Indian riders, particularly the rickshaw puller, who shouldn’t need to expend all this effort, whereas additionally remaining eco-friendly and working at a low working 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 the ‘Father of the E-Rickshaw’, however extra precisely what Vijay did was pioneer the large-scale manufacturing of e-rickshaws in India.
Previous is prologue
Important feats in engineering are achieved based mostly on developments prior to now. Whereas Vijay did pioneer the manufacturing of e-rickshaws, it was one other IIT-Kanpur alumni who constructed the primary one.
Dr Anil Kumar Rajvanshi is the person credited for having developed the electrical rickshaw in 2000 figuring out of the Nimbkar Agricultural Analysis Institute (NARI) in Phaltan, Satara district of Maharashtra. He was awarded the Padma Shri earlier this yr.
Regardless of some preliminary curiosity, nobody took the step of shopping for their design of e-rickshaws from NARI and commercialising it, he notes in his e-book ‘Romance of Improvements’. It could take a few extra years earlier than an entrepreneur like Vijay took the following step.
Graduating from IIT-Kanpur in 1972, Vijay received 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 and the next troubles in Punjab within the Eighties, I moved to Delhi the place I started manufacturing elements for the mix harvester machines, which I then began to export. Throughout this era, I additionally got here into contact with suppliers to Maruti. I had many pals from IIT-Kanpur, who had been working there on the time,” recollects Vijay.
He recollects studying quite a bit in regards to the automotive enterprise. That have would play a pivotal function in his bid to fabricate and promote e-rickshaws in India.
“In 2011, we began with a quite simple mannequin, which took us about one and a half years to develop. Initially, there was no infrastructure out there to make or function e-rickshaws. For instance, no person was able to make tires for e-rickshaws, so we needed to develop our personal. There have been no distributors in India making e-rickshaw batteries. We needed to impart some technical data to third-party distributors displaying them assemble a battery pack and charger. Right now, the infrastructure to fabricate an e-rickshaw is out there,” notes Vijay.
Constructing an e-mobility ecosystem
Beginning out, the batteries out there on the time weren’t match to be used in e-rickshaws as a result of. When it comes to design, they had been fully totally different and never suited to make use of for e-rickshaws.
“We began with 35 AH lead acid batteries, which gave us about 30-40 km on a single cost with a charging time of 8 hours. Right now, our e-rickshaws make use of 130 Amp lithium-ion batteries with a charging time of solely two hours, which supplies us a 100 km vary on a single cost. This enchancment in battery vary delivers an honest earnings to erstwhile rickshaw pullers who’ve made the transition to electrical. Over time, we improved the battery design to go well with our functions. Our lithium-ion batteries right this moment give us a three-year guarantee, whereas the lead acid battery we first employed gave us solely 1-year,” he recollects.
“Even for the axle, which we designed, we needed to set up superb bearings to make sure very much less friction in order that the car provides us extra kilometres. The largest drawback for the Indian market was once we made an e-rickshaw for 2 individuals, drivers had been seating 4 individuals. After we made it for 4 individuals, they had been seating six. We needed to usually redesign the principle chassis. With the chassis out there right this moment, these e-rickshaws can carry larger hundreds. There was no breakdown of the chassis in our e-rickshaws now within the final two years,” he provides.
SEAPL even redesigned the tyres required for e-rickshaws, which right this moment have a shelf lifetime of 50-60K kms, whereas earlier it was solely 2 months because of the totally different hundreds they had been carrying.
The SAEPL e-rickshaws started with a 500W motor, whereas right this moment they’re utilizing 1200W motors. With a 500W motor, the rickshaw struggled to climb up slopes. Additionally, SAEPL was importing the motor from China. Getting the seller there to re-design it for Indian situations was a troublesome course of and the motor design went by 5 to six iterations earlier than the one we at present make use of.
“One other key issue was that the e-rickshaw must be economical for the rickshaw puller. What they earn is essential to me. That’s why we went for a 4 and 6-seater e-rickshaw in order that they will make good cash. Right now, a few of those that function our e-rickshaws earn about Rs 1,200 to Rs 1,500 per day. Put on and tear could be very much less, whereas upkeep prices are minimal. They will simply put aside Rs 100 day-after-day to cowl these prices,” he claims
To promote their first e-rickshaw, nonetheless, took about 8 months.
“No person was prepared to purchase one. I used to take my granddaughters to high school in an e-rickshaw to promote it. After 8 months, there was an previous girl who bought my e-rickshaw for her son however paid me solely half the cash. Afterward, that girl would buy 6 extra e-rickshaws from me,” recollects Vijay.
However one of many largest hurdles Vijay and SEAPL needed to overcome on the time was the dearth of guidelines and laws for these e-rickshaws on the highway.
“We can’t run any car on our roads with out clearance from the RTO (Highway Transport Workplace) and rigorous testing from businesses like ICAT (Worldwide Centre for Automotive Know-how). On the time, ICAT didn’t have any guidelines or laws for electrical Rickshaws ” he says.
There was finally a committee shaped by the Authorities of India underneath the chairmanship of Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, which selected all of the norms together with pace, quantity of torque within the motors, and additional precautions required in the course of the monsoon season to stop water from getting into the car, what load quantities can they safely carry, and so on.
All these assessments are carried out by businesses by ICAT, however the guidelines and laws are set by the federal government. “As business stakeholders, we gave them our suggestions. A invoice to regularise e-rickshaws and supply for driving licences for battery-operated automobiles was launched in Lok Sabha in December 2014 and subsequently handed by each homes. These guidelines and laws had been then handed on to the respective RTOs and these cleared up all of the authorized issues. By the point these legal guidelines got here into pressure, I had already offered greater than 5,000 e-rickshaws. That was the most important authorized drawback for me. It was finally addressed with the passing of the Motor Autos Modification Invoice, 2014,” recollects Vijay.
When these guidelines had been formally legalised, he elevated manufacturing. Initially, Vijay had a small plant in Gurugram, which was making 20 automobiles per day. He then shifted base to a bigger plant in Bhiwadi, Rajasthan, and right this moment they’re making about 170-200 e-rickshaws per day.
“Watching e-rickshaws on the highway right this moment provides me nice happiness. It was a dream which got here true. However earlier than us, a big car producer got here with electrical two-wheelers, which flopped. Anyone who purchased their electrical two-wheeler wasn’t finally utilizing it as a result of they couldn’t service it. After we offered e-rickshaws, we additionally confronted this drawback,” he says.
However after having labored for practically three many years within the car sector, he understood what was required. SEAPL primarily burdened servicing and availability of elements.
“In whichever areas my e-rickshaws had been offered, we’d prepare a mechanic in service them and guarantee they had been by no means in need of spare elements. It was due to the immediate service that we succeeded. Sadly, the bigger firms who had made the splash earlier didn’t take these parts into consideration once they manufactured electrical two-wheelers,” he says.
The EV ecosystem has come a great distance since then. Main markets in areas like Karol Bagh and Kashmere Gate have many outlets right this moment which have spare elements for electrical automobiles. There are such a lot of gamers who’ve entered the enterprise in India, making elements for e-rickshaws.
Right now, SEAPL is within the palms of his son Nitin Kapoor, and the Mayuri e-rickshaw ranks among the many highest-selling manufacturers on this class. Vijay, in the meantime, has moved into different areas like hydroponics and is at present engaged on a “new undertaking” regardless of his age.
‘E-rickshaw makers get a brand new cost’ by Mayank Dhingra; Printed on 17 Could 2017 courtesy Autocar Skilled
‘Historical past of Electrical Rickshaws at NARI’ (Chapter from the e-book “Romance of Innovation”) by Anil Okay. Rajvanshi
‘The E-rickshaw story: Was the appearance of electrical mobility in India deliberate’ by Akshima Ghate, Dimpy Suneja; Printed on 01 February 2018 courtesy The Vitality and Assets Institute
(Edited by Yoshita Rao)