The new launch of Makkal Auto has been specifically designed to encourage eco-friendly travel, besides its inclusiveness in creating a livelihood option for people across genders. The company has already been doing this in its regular auto-rickshaw operations in Tamil Nadu and New Delhi.
When DC reached out to the brains behind the city’s first-of-its-kind initiative, Mansoor Ali Khan, Mauto Electric Mobility chairman and Yasmeen Jawahar, the company’s CEO, about how cost-effective and eco-friendly the vehicles will be, the duo revealed, “As far as cost is concerned, electric is more cost effective. For a normal IC engine (petrol/ diesel / gas), it costs a minimum of `400 for 100 kms whereas electric autos will cost `40 only”.
The company says that the focus is not just on LPG autos. All kind of IC engine autos will be converted. But why retrofit rather than engaging a new vehicle?
The company says that its motto is to build an auto-rickshaw community. “In Chennai we have about 1,50,000 autos and in TN alone we have 10 lakh auto rickshaws. It’s the second mass transport and it isn’t an organised sector yet. Everyone comes with a new vehicle and so there is no solution for existing vehicle which is already polluting the air; so we wanted to have a solution for the existing ones.”
About how the old auto can be put to use, they explain, “Only the outer body shell of the old autos will be used. The engine and the entire system will be removed and replaced with lithium ion battery connected to an electric motor.”
Is it totally eco-friendly? Yasmeen clears most doubts - “It is eco-friendly because we are using solar energy in our charging stations and all the autos will have a solar panel on top of them. In monsoon the other option will be thermal energy. We have the approval of ARAI.”
An MoU has been signed with the government of Tamil Nadu. The company is expecting surplus energy from the government for its stations. The autos will have CCTV, GPS and panic button for ensuring safety of the passengers.
With regard to charging stations and techniques that will speed up the operation, Yasmeen adds, “We have plans to bring up at least 50 charging stations initially. M Auto charging stations will come in 10 zones of Chennai. Each zone will have 5 charging stations - the minimum to cover the city. We are also coming up with 25 swapping stations. At present we have just 3 charging stations. The minimum charging of auto-rickshaws takes 3 hours. We are thinking of having swapping stations that will save time in recharging batteries.”
Mansoor says the response is pretty positive from the old auto owners as well who were looking for a solution to use their two stroke engine vehicles which are banned.
The battery life is expected to be 15 years with 3 years warranty period and even after that these batteries can be used for UPS etc. They are looking for solutions to disposing these batteries within the country as they now rely on resources outside India.
Unlike the major app-based car service, these e-autos will have a monthly subscription for scheduled ride service for school kids and working professionals. “By 2020, we expect to have converted at least 30 percent of existing 2 strokes vehicles”....