Vijayawada on Thursday witnessed the launch of electric auto-rickshaws for the first time in the state. Piaggio Vehicles Pvt Ltd (PVPL) launched their electric auto model Apé E-City for the Vijayawada market. The autos will have swappable batteries, and two charging stations have already been set up in the city.
Speaking about the reason for launching in Vijayawada, Head of Commercial Vehicle Business at Piaggio India Saju Nair said that the city is a strategic market as it is a rapidly growing commercial hub.
The autos will be sold in Vijayawada through Ramcor, the dealership which will also manage the charging stations in the city. Speaking to TNM, Managing Partner at Ramcor Prakash said that so far, charging stations have been set up at Seetharamapuram and Gollapudi, while three more stations are likely to come up near Gandhinagar, Benz circle, and Ramavarappadu.
“Vijayawada is a densely populated city, geographically spread in such a way that it makes sense to have e-vehicles. Since the entire city is connected by a couple of major roads like Eluru road and Bunder road, forming a grid of charging stations is convenient,” Prakash said.
Speaking about the advantages to auto rickshaw owners and/or drivers, Prakash said that cost of running is lower than petrol or diesel, and slightly less than CNG as well. The cost of running would approximately amount to Rs 2.5 per kilometre, he said.
Moreover, the restrictions on purchase of new autos in Vijayawada do not apply to electric vehicles, he added. “As per the Regional Transport Authority (RTA) guidelines, in Vijayawada, you can only buy a new auto as a replacement for an existing one, and this replacement auto can only be a CNG one. So if someone wants to buy a new auto, they would have to find a permit from someone who wants to sell their auto without a replacement. There’s a cost to this and it’s a complicated process. But there is no such cost for electric vehicles,” Prakash said.
The showroom price of the auto is Rs 1.96 lakh, according to a statement from Piaggio. Speaking about benefits related to maintenance and warranty offered, Saju Nair reportedly said, “I feel E-city will further boost the employment opportunities and will increase the earnability of driver.”
He also said that considering “Andhra Pradesh government’s focus on promoting sustainable mobility, Ape E-City is the right choice for Vijayawada where 3 wheelers are one of the primary modes of last mile transportation.”
The Andhra Pradesh government has previously announced its plans to expand the charging infrastructure for electric vehicles in the state. Recently, Andhra Pradesh Industries Minister Mekapati Goutham Reddy spoke about the state government’s intent to push for more electric vehicles. He also said that electric vehicles will be introduced in large numbers in the Andhra Pradesh Public Transport Department soon.
Prakash said that discussions are expected to take place with the Andhra Pradesh Economic Development Board and other concerned authorities regarding government support towards expanding charging station infrastructure.
The autos are also enabled to be linked with an app which displays the amount of charge remaining in the battery, and the location of the nearest charging station as well as the number of batteries available at the station. The autos, which use Lithium ion batteries, have zero emissions, according to Piaggio.