Chennai: With virtually all modes of transport going the hybrid way, here’s news that could make the rickshaw - which is now restricted to a few Indian cities and pockets of Asia - a possible mode of public transport. Twenty-six-year-old Sivaraj Muthuraman, a Tirupur-based innovator, has built a ‘hybrid’ rickshaw called the Eco Free Cab, that runs on solar battery and pedal power. This invention entered the India Book of Records under the Science and Technology Category on Saturday.
A three-seater vehicle that can run a distance of about 150 km per battery charge, the Eco Free Cab has a top speed of 45 km per hour. Vivek Raja, adjudicator, India Book of Records, said, “If we can control the process of burning fuel, pollution can be brought down drastically. Such inventions go a long way in controlling the greenhouse gas effect. Sivaraj’s invention, hence, is laudable.” Dr Manoj Beno, Medical Director, Billroth Hospital, was also present on the occasion.
The invention was to be updated on the Record Book’s website on Sunday. Speaking to City Express, Sivaraj said, “About two-and-half years ago, I felt that someone must breathe life into the rickshaw. It was then that I took this up as a project. Rickshaw-wallahs, if you notice, have more or less disappeared. They must be provided training on how to use the vehicle and be provided with a means of livelihood.”
26-year-old Sivaraj Muthuraman, a Tirupur-based innovator, has built a \'hybrid\' rickshaw called the Eco Free Cab.
Explaining the difference between the Eco Free Cab and other hybrid and battery-operated vehicles, Sivaraj said, “Conventional battery-operated vehicles are expensive, even costing to up to Rs 4 lakh. In comparison, an Eco Free Cab would cost only about Rs 80,000. Thus, the vehicles are cost-effective and are of low maintenance.”
As the biggest challenge that he faced with the project, Sivaraj cites lack of public encouragement. “My neighbours were baffled when they saw a prototype of my product in our parking lot. People thought I had gone mad,” he remembered. “Soon, it turned into curiosity, with people wanting to take photographs sitting in it!” The Eco Free Cab will look to raise funds through cover advertisements, informed Sivaraj. “As far as corporate sponsors are concerned, Videocon has indicated interest. However, now, we would like to focus on finishing the product development and market it in about eight months,” he added.