State-owned Kerala Automobiles Limited (KAL) has started bookings of its electric auto-rickshaw, E-Neem and it seems like the Nepalese government is impressed with the vehicle and has placed an order to buy 200 E-Neem auto-rickshaws.
Talking to Financial Express, Kerala Industry Minister EP Jayarajan has confirmed the same and has also said that it has received enquiries from the states of Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, while Tamil Nadu has already shown interest in buying 1,000 units of the e-auto-rickshaws. KAL was planning to launch the E-Neem in September 2019 but the launch has been delayed. The company is now ready for commercial production with the assembly units running with a capacity of producing 200 E-Neem units per month. As soon as the current coronavirus lockdown is over, E-Neem auto-rickshaws will be officially launched with a base price of Rs 2 lakh and will be eligible for a state subsidy of Rs 30,000.
Video courtesy: Mathrubhumi Youtube channel
The E-Neem auto-rickshaws are powered by a 90 Ah Lithium-Ion battery pack driving a 2.2 kW DC motor. The battery returns a range of 100 km per charge. The auto-rickshaw has a kerb weight of 310 kg and gets hydraulic drum bikes both front and rear along with a mechanical parking brake. E-Neem’s suspension duties are done by a traditional swing arm with hydraulic shock absorbers at the front and leaf spring suspension unit with hydraulic shock absorbers at the rear. The battery is developed with German tech support and can be charged with a regular 3-pin 5 amp plug. It is claimed that the running cost of E-Neem is just 50 paise per km.
KAL started operations in 1978 as a Government of Kerala undertaking and manufactures three-wheelers (Diesel, Petrol, Electric, LPG and CNG) for passenger and goods segment. The company offers auto-rickshaws as driveaway chassis, fully-built, pickup/delivery vans and load carriers.
The electric three-wheeler segment is getting busy and is seeing rapid adoption as it does the job for the operator at the fraction of the cost. While Mahindra already has its Treo, Treo Yatri and e-Alfa range of passenger and load carriers, Piaggio has launched the Ape E-City passenger carrier, which is also the first 3-wheeler in India to have smart swappable batteries. Bajaj will also be launching its own electric auto-rickshaw this year in the form of Bajaj RE Electric and the EV has been spotted testing on public roads. At the Auto Expo 2020, Omega Seiki Mobility launched two cargo electric three-wheelers – Omega Singha and Omega Singha Max and Lohia Auto will reinforce its presence in the segment with another competitive product mid-year.