One of the big contributors to air pollution in the city is the autorickshaw. However, there is a solution-solar e-rickshaws and Georgekutty Kariyanappally, a staunch advocate of green energy for past 16 years, says it can be rightly called so.

It was during his travels in North India that he came across the vehicle. “While travelling through Delhi, Patna, and Ranchi, I came across many solar e-rickshaws. I even travelled in some and got thinking why there are none in Kerala? Finally I realised that there is no point in wondering and decided to take initiative,” says Georgekutty. He opened ‘Lifeway Solar’ an e-rickshaw showroom at Edappally.

The rickshaw has a number of benefits. It is fume-free, eco-friendly, maintenance-free and user efficient. It is said that it will put an end to the complaints about the ‘high auto fares’ in Kerala.
For the past 16 years Georgekutty has been a part of many solar products’ initiatives. Prior to solar e-rickshaw, he also introduced solar incubator for poultry, solar powered boat and solar milking machines. “Solar energy is the need of the hour. It is high time, we stopped exploiting conventional energy sources. Our focus must shift to the alternatives,” says Georgekutty.

According to him, Sun is the ultimate energy source and we are not utilising it fully. He says that his isn’t merely a business venture but a service. His mission is to create a carbon-free public transport system.
“The running cost of solar autorickshaw per kilometre is just 25 paise while that of a normal one comes to around Rs 2 to Rs 3. Thus the vehicles not only benefits the driver but also the passengers too,” says Donny George, the director of the firm.

The battery life of these autorickshaws are commendable. A fully-charged rickshaw can travel to a distance of 80 km at a maximum speed of 25 km per hour. By fitting the e-rickshaws with solar panels will help in increasing this range to 120 km.

Two models are currently available – Prince and Samrat. Prince is a traveller autorickshaw which is available in 5 colours, while Samrat can be used as a transporter. It comes in 3 colours.
The FRP material used is waterproof, fire proof and rust proof ensuring durability and strength.
P H Sadiq Ali, Regional Transport Officer, says, “The best feature of the e-rickshaw is that it is eco-friendly.” However, he was skeptical about the speed. Jibin, an auto driver from Palarivattom, shares similar concern. “Who would want to travel at such a speed in this fast paced city?” he asks.