According to reports, Amdavadis will see 500 pollution-free auto-rickshaws on city roads this Independence Day, thanks to an agreement signed between the umbrella organisation of the city’s auto-drivers unions and a joint venture with a Japanese company.
The Japanese firm manufactures closed-body battery-operated electric auto-rickshaws (e-autos) which are not only environment-friendly but cost little to operate and maintain. As a result, commuters can expect much-needed relief from high auto fares.
On Monday, the Ahmedabad Auto Rickshaw Chalak Sangarsh Samiti (AARCSS), a federation of 13 auto-rickshaw drivers’ unions of the city, signed an MoU with Smart Grid Pvt Ltd, for introduction of e-autos in the city. Smart Grid is a joint venture between the Japanese company Myway and Indian firm, Gintel World.
Smart Grid has agreed to provide, by July 31, 500 vehicles which will be formally launched on Independence Day. AARCSS president, Harihar Mishra, said that the e-auto is likely to cut travelling cost of commuters.
“We are forced to increase auto-rickshaw fares because the government is unable to check rise in CNG prices. Moreover, maintenance and operating cost of CNG autos is in the range of Rs2 to Rs2.5 per km. The e-auto will take care of both these issues,” said Mishra.
The operating cost of the e-auto comes to around 50 paise per kilometre. The vehicle, which will have a seating capacity of one plus three, will cost between Rs1.60 lakh and Rs1.70 lakh apiece, excluding government duty. Sunil Mishra, managing director of Smart Grid, said that they are in talks with the central government for subsidy on electric auto purchases.
“If all goes well, auto-drivers will be able to get an e-auto for the same price as a CNG auto,” said the Smart Grid official. The CNG auto is priced at around Rs1.50 lakh.
In view of the problems caused by batteries getting discharged, the company has promised to provide batteries which last for 60 kilometres. The firm is also in talks with oil marketing companies for setting up ‘battery swapping’ centres in the city where a discharged battery can be exchanged for a fully-charged battery for a small fee.
The company which will provide the batteries has ensured that the price of the battery and charges for swapping at centres established across Ahmedabad will not be changed arbitrarily without consulting auto-drivers. The company has also proposed to give insurance cover to vehicles for 10 years.