The Soleckshaw, a new solar powered, motorized version of India’s humble rickshaw, has been unveiled this month in Delhi, and is being touted as a solution to traffic jams, pollution woes, and backbreaking human labor.
[social_buttons] Logging its first miles in Delhi, the soleckshaw can be pedaled normally or powered by a 36-volt solar battery. Developed by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, (CSIR) the new solar-powered taxis have hit the streets for a test drive. The soleckshaws include FM radios and the ability to power up cell phones while driving. The battery allows the taxi to travel 15 km per hour (9.3 mph) for up to 42 miles.
CSIR director Sinha said: “In the age of global warming, the soleckshaw, with improvements, can be successfully developed as competition for all the petrol and diesel run small cars.”
There are about 8 million rickshaw drivers in India. It is hoped that the new, solar power rickshaws will enhance the vehicle’s image, and allow it to become an even more favorable mode of transportation. It is thought that the new powered rickshaws will attract an entirely new middle class clientele.
Most importantly however, it’s thought that the rickshaw will improve the quality of life for rickshaw drivers, and encourage a sense of self worth. Bappa Chattarjee migrated to Delhi from West Bengal and is one of the 500,000 pullers in the city.
“Pedaling the rickshaw was very difficult for me,” said Bappa Chatterjee, “I used to suffer chest pains and shortage of breath going up inclines. This is so much easier. Earlier, when people hailed us it was like, ‘Hey you rickshaw puller!’ Police used to harass us, slapping fines even abusing us for what they called wrong parking. Now people look at me with respect.”
With clogged streets and greenhouse gas emissions on the rise in India, the soleckshaw is a welcome development for passengers, drivers, and environmentalists alike.
Photo Source: Flickr under a Creative Commons License