Motion & Emotion

This Is a Very Real Rickshaw With Very Real Audi E-Tron Batteries Powering It


Let us answer the obvious questions first. Yes, this is a real rickshaw powered by genuine Audi e-Tron batteries. And yes, it is implausible that you will ever drive one.

Technically, it is not an Audi. After all, this is a rickshaw, and Audi is not exactly a player in this field. But the four rings have been quite involved in this area – apart from the batteries, Audi is funding Nunam, the non-profit organisation that brings e-rickshaws to India, and the team in Neckarsulm has helped develop the e-rickshaws. On a side note: Audi finds a way to build these. Please call them e-rickshaws and put us on the list for these vehicles – dropping them off at the nursery would be much more entertaining.

Nunam believes that the batteries of an electric car have much more to offer after their “useful life”. And we agree. But while we are thinking about storing electricity at home or living off-grid, the more civic-minded folks at Nunam are thinking about helping others by giving people access to clean energy by reusing batteries… which quite coincidentally reduces waste and pollution at the same time. And we just wanted to be all Walden, only with hot showers.

The plan is pretty simple: take used batteries from Audi e-Tron test cars at the end of the prototype phase, repackage them and use them for stationary batteries and a fleet of rickshaws in Bangalore. Solar cells charge the large stationary batteries, which then charge the rickshaws day and night. And if you have ever experienced the sun in such latitudes – southern India, Philippines, Vietnam, Caribbean and so on – you will understand that solar energy is not exactly scarce.

And now for the less obvious but quintessentially Autos Community question: if these cars have e-Tron drive and rickshaw weight, can they do the wheelies from Octopussy? Well, no. The reality, which is often a buzzkill, means that the e-rickshaws will have small electric motors because they “do not need to be particularly powerful as rickshaw drivers in India do not go fast or far”.

Next, they will tell us that these electric rickshaws cannot jump over camels, fend off henchmen or plough through conveniently placed wall posters. Do famous tennis players drive these things, or what?

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