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How a Rickshaw Puller Impressed IIT Grad to Manufacture India’s 1st E-Rickshaw


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 via 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 vehicle 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 bought a way of the depressing circumstances they had been working below given the intense climate and the extraordinary bodily labour required. Seeing their situation, I believed we should 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 “considering 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 operating value.” says Vijay. 

Later that 12 months, the IIT-Kanpur graduate based Saera Electrical Auto Personal 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. 

Vijay Kapoor was the first to pioneer large scale manufacturing of the e-rickshaw in India.
Vijay Kapoor (Picture courtesy Autocar Skilled)

Previous is prologue 

Important feats in engineering are achieved based mostly on developments previously. 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 understanding of the Nimbkar Agricultural Analysis Institute (NARI) in Phaltan, Satara district of Maharashtra. He was awarded the Padma Shri earlier this 12 months.  

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 might take a few extra years earlier than an entrepreneur like Vijay took the subsequent step.  

Graduating from IIT-Kanpur in 1972, Vijay bought 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 following troubles in Punjab within the Nineteen Eighties, I moved to Delhi the place I started manufacturing components 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 buddies from IIT-Kanpur, who had been working there on the time,” remembers Vijay. 

He remembers studying lots concerning 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 obtainable to make or function e-rickshaws. For instance, no one 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 tips on how to assemble a battery pack and charger. As we speak, the infrastructure to fabricate an e-rickshaw is out there,” notes Vijay.

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

Constructing an e-mobility ecosystem

Beginning out, the batteries obtainable on the time weren’t match to be used in e-rickshaws as a result of. By way of design, they had been utterly 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. As we speak, our e-rickshaws make use of 130 Amp lithium-ion batteries with a charging time of solely two hours, which provides us a 100 km vary on a single cost. This enchancment in battery vary delivers an honest revenue 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 at the moment give us a three-year guarantee, whereas the lead acid battery we first employed gave us solely 1-year,” he remembers. 

“Even for the axle, which we designed, we needed to set up excellent bearings to make sure very much less friction in order that the car offers us extra kilometres. The most important downside for the Indian market was once we made an e-rickshaw for 2 folks, drivers had been seating 4 folks. After we made it for 4 folks, they had been seating six. We needed to often redesign the principle chassis. With the chassis obtainable at the 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 at the moment have a shelf lifetime of 50-60K kms, whereas earlier it was solely 2 months as a result of totally different hundreds they had been carrying. 

The SAEPL e-rickshaws started with a 500W motor, whereas at the 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 circumstances was a tricky course of and the motor design went via 5 to six iterations earlier than the one we presently 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. As we speak, a few of those that function our e-rickshaws earn about Rs 1,200 to Rs 1,500 per day. Put on and tear may be very much less, whereas upkeep prices are minimal. They will simply put aside Rs 100 on daily basis 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 highschool in an e-rickshaw to promote it. After 8 months, there was an outdated woman who bought my e-rickshaw for her son however paid me solely half the cash. In a while, that woman would buy 6 extra e-rickshaws from me,” remembers 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 (Street 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 below the chairmanship of Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, which selected all of the norms together with velocity, quantity of torque within the motors, and further precautions required throughout the monsoon season to stop water from getting into the car, what load quantities can they safely carry, and so on. 

All these exams are performed 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 autos 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 drive, I had already offered greater than 5,000 e-rickshaws. That was the most important authorized downside for me. It was finally addressed with the passing of the Motor Autos Modification Invoice, 2014,” remembers Vijay.  

When these guidelines had been formally legalised, he elevated manufacturing. Initially, Vijay had a small plant in Gurugram, which was making 20 autos per day. He then shifted base to a bigger plant in Bhiwadi, Rajasthan, and at the moment they’re making about 170-200 e-rickshaws per day.

“Watching e-rickshaws on the highway at the moment offers me nice happiness. It was a dream which got here true. However earlier than us, a big vehicle 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 downside,” he says.

However after having labored for almost three a long time within the vehicle sector, he understood what was required. SEAPL primarily burdened servicing and availability of components. 

“In whichever areas my e-rickshaws had been offered, we’d prepare a mechanic in tips on how to service them and guarantee they had been by no means wanting spare components. It was due to the immediate service that we succeeded. Sadly, the bigger corporations who had made the splash earlier didn’t take these parts into consideration once they manufactured electrical two-wheelers,” he says.

Current model of the Mayuri e-rickshaw.
Present mannequin of the Mayuri E-rickshaw

The EV ecosystem has come a great distance since then. Main markets in areas like Karol Bagh and Kashmere Gate have many outlets at the moment which have spare components for electrical autos. There are such a lot of gamers who’ve entered the enterprise in India, making components for e-rickshaws. 

As we speak, 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 presently engaged on a “new venture” regardless of his age. 

Further Sources:

‘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 Power and Sources Institute

(Edited by Yoshita Rao)



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