Electric rickshaws or e-rickshaws have been leading the transition to electric vehicles and have been popular in most parts of the world since 2008. E-rickshaws were first introduced in Assam in 2014 after the amendment under the Motor vehicles Rules of 1989 by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways 2014.
Three-wheeler EV sector in India
According to an analysis by NITI Aayog, almost 79% of the electric vehicles’ addition is from the three-wheeler segment and is driving the electrification of the Indian automobile industry. As per the report, Assam stands fifth in the state-wise three-wheeler electric vehicle use with 24,605 units till 2020.
E-rickshaw popularity in Assam
Known as ‘Tom-tom’, ‘tuk-tuk’ or ‘to-to’, e-rickshaw gained wide popularity after their introduction in Assam. They popularity sustained due to their greater advantage, low cost, higher seat capacities and fast speed compared to the general rickshaws. Also in smaller towns and cities in India, these e-rickshaws are an efficient way to travel since apart from Guwahati, other parts of Assam don’t have riding facilities like Uber and Ola.
Challenges faced by the drivers
However, there are obstacles too, upon talking to some e-rickshaw drivers, it was revealed that there are no charging points in the towns. Hence, they rely on home electricity to charge up the vehicle which puts a stress on the overall electricity bill adding another Rs. 2000-2500. They usually charge up the vehicle at night and the battery usually lasts 11-12 hours. The battery also needs to be replaced after six months or a year which costs around Rs. 4000. On average a driver earns Rs. 600-1000 which is not enough if the cost of charging the battery, repairment cost and regular expenditure is considered.
Some of the drivers also state that they do not get insurance for the e-rickshaw and most of them were not provided with any instalment option for the purchase of their e-rickshaw. The price of an e-rickshaw range from Rs. 1,00,000 to 1,40,000.
In 2022, a hundred electronic vehicle charging booths were installed across Guwahati in order to promote the adoption of electric vehicles across the region. But, the problem is they are concentrated in only one region. Whereas, there is a need to install charging points in other parts of the state.
Assam EV policy 2021
According to the draft Electric Vehicles Policy of Assam 2021, there are exemptions and reimbursements for registration charges and road tax for all EVs till 2026. The policy also stated that EV owners may exchange a vehicle’s battery that has reached the end of its useful life at any charging station or swapping station in exchange for payment. The policy forbids the scrapping of EV batteries as well as any other form of battery disposal.
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