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Peer-to-peer exchange on electric three-wheelers Kochi, Dar es Salaam, Kigali

The SOLUTIONSPlus and the Decarbonising Transport in Emerging Economies (DTEE) projects organised on the 11th of July 2022, a peer-to-peer exchange on three-wheelers between city decision-makers, academia, industry players, start-ups, and non-international organisations. City and transport practitioners from Kochi (India), Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) and Kigali (Rwanda) had the chance to exchange thoughts about ongoing pilots to introduce electric three-wheelers as feeder services integrated with mass transit solutions. 

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Key findings from the introduction of electric auto-rickshaws as feeder services in Kochi 

The introduction of electric motor rickshaws (hereafter “e-autos”) in Kochi started in 2017 with financial and technical support from UN-Habitat and Wuppertal Institute under the Urban Pathways project, and from GIZ’s Smart-SUT project. Initially aiming for 20 e-autos, the Kochi Municipality Corporation (KMC) decided to increase the impact of the pilot by scaling up to 100 e-auto rickshaws. The project brought together six drivers unions under one umbrella, the Ernakulam Jilla Autorickshaw Drivers Cooperative Society (EJADCS), which organised 100 drivers supporting the take-up of e-auto rickshaws. In addition, Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL) and Cochin Smart Mission Limited (CSML) were involved as technical partners. 


Situation before the introduction of 100 e-auto rickshaws 

About 4,500 fossil-fuelled autorickshaws (1 per 1,000 inhabitants in the Greater Kochi area) ply in the area. They provide commuting options and a considerable opportunity for decarbonising the sector. Introducing e-auto rickshaws is suitable for Kochi’s narrow streets and can provide feeder services to mass transit options such as Kochi’s Metro system, can substitute the need for a two-wheeler, provide an affordable option as a shared mode, and increase the income of drivers. There are a few electric rickshaws – using lead acid batteries and a lighter design than e-auto rickshaws – used for feeder services to the metro services in Kochi. However, e-three-wheelers are not yet as deployed as in Northern Indian cities such as New Delhi, where supportive e-mobility policies have enabled a strong development of electric three-wheelers. 


Project components 

Capacity building and training activities 

Activities addressed awareness-raising on e-auto rickshaws, road safety and peer-to-peer learning from other cities on knowledge, skills and attitudes. In addition, several training sessions were held with drivers from the e-autorickshaws drivers association, transport departments, and other stakeholders to build trust and ensure ownership of the project by the drivers.  


Business model identification 

The business model was developed together with all key stakeholders. 
EJADCS buys the e-auto rickshaws from the manufacturers, including batteries, and rents them out to drivers. The society receives 50,000 Rupees (ca. 628 USD) as down payments from KMC through the Urban Pathways and GIZ funding; 35,000 Rupees (ca. 440 USD) come from the Kerala state government; the rest of the cost is covered via a loan to the drivers. The leasing fees collected by the driver’s society are pooled and used for maintenance and management and for scaling up the digital application. KMC provides the land for the charging infrastructure at no charge.   


Charging model 
The drivers for the pilot have selected battery swapping. It reduces the insecurity of drivers leaving their vehicles charging overnight and creates new synergies and business models. In addition, lithium-ion batteries come with a 3-year warranty, so the battery swapping operators also have security with the batteries. 
Charging equipment is provided by the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEBL). KMC provides funding to the KSEBL for the implementation, and a memorandum of understanding was signed between KMC and KSEBL.

Maintenance and end-of-life 
Vehicles are locally manufactured. Maintenance was one of the major components considered by EJADCS; manufacturers are tightly involved in the project, including via a maintenance agreement.  Policies for the end-of-life management of batteries are progressively introduced at the national level; it is a process that takes time. With lithium-ion batteries, the chances of being reused as a second life as energy storage systems and recycled are higher.   


Integration as feeder services 
An app named AuSa is being developed to allow e-auto rickshaw drivers to make more trips and income. The app also offers the opportunity for planned trips, live tracking for commuters, and integration with the Metro services. 

Key lessons 

-    Capacity building, awareness-raising and stakeholder engagement are critical for the buy-in of the transition to e-autos and the joint identification of business models. 

-    Subsidies may be used in areas where the e-autos market is still undeveloped to stimulate and make the vehicles affordable. It is expected that as technology grows, e-autos will become cheaper. 

-    A local manufacturing industry is important to support the maintenance of the e-autos, as well as the tight involvement of the manufacturers.

About the SOLUTIONSPlus and DTEE projects

The SOLUTIONSPlus project supports the uptake of different types of innovative and integrated electric mobility solutions across the globe. The project encompasses city-level demonstrations to test different innovative and integrated e-mobility solutions, complemented by a comprehensive toolbox, capacity development and replication activities. Demonstration actions take place in Hanoi (Vietnam), Pasig (Philippines), Lalitpur/Kathmandu (Nepal), Kigali (Rwanda), Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), Quito (Ecuador), Montevideo (Uruguay), Madrid (Spain), Nanjing (China) and Hamburg (Germany), followed by replication cities. This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.   The Decarbonising Transport in Emerging Economies (DTEE) project supports transport decarbonisation in Argentina, Azerbaijan, India and Morocco. DTEE supports the development and provision of a framework allowing the quantitative assessment of transport mitigation actions while facilitating policy dialogue across all relevant stakeholders. The DTEE project also includes capacity-building activities such as training and stakeholder workshops, ensuring that partner institutions can work increasingly independently when revising nationally determined contribution (NDC) commitments in the five-year review cycle. Such activities will also allow assessment frameworks to be kept up to date with adequate recurring data collection. The International Climate Initiative (IKI) of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) funds the DTEE project and the project is implemented jointly by the International Transport Forum (ITF) and the Wuppertal Institute (WI).  

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