When 90 per cent of autorickshaw drivers do not use their vehicles for more than 90 km a day, why not, thought Gayam and his brother Rahul Raja, give them a vehicle that is comparatively cheaper, environment friendly and runs on electricity?
Gayam Raja, 29, a former student of IIIT-Hyderabad, and Rahul Raja, 26, a PhD student of University of Hyderabad, grew up watching their father work with petrol and CNG-based automobiles, which he even exported to different countries. So there really was no surprise when the two decided to follow the same path, but with a slightly different approach.
“Autos, we found out after we conducted a survey with over 300 drivers in Hyderabad, are mostly used for short distances. We decided to make an electric auto that runs for 100-110 km per day on a single charge of around four hours,” says Gayam.
A year ago, the brothers had made five autos for an electric automobile company based in Japan. “When it came to designing the autos, the difficult part was already taken care of, which is the gear box that was used in the autos we made for the Japanese company. The 3-kilowatt motor is also bought from Japan. The focus was actually on the design aspect of the autos that we wanted for Hyderabad roads,” says Gayam.
While the prototype took a year and a half to perfect, the final product will hit the streets in a couple of months. “To start a car, one uses ladac batteries, which are very heavy. We replaced that with lithium batteries that are used in cellphones. We started with testing this on bikes, then moved on to a Nano and finally a three-wheeler,” says Gayam.
And since nobody uses electric vehicles in the city, Gayam and Rahul plan to launch theirs as a cab service first. “In general people have a bad impression about electric vehicles; that they are not reliable and not a viable option. So to begin with, a fleet of 10-20 autos is scheduled to run in Hyderabad for a year. In this manner, we can make people aware about the feasibility of the autos and based on the feedback, we can also further improve on the product,” says Gayam.