Conversion of a CNG Powered Auto Rickshaw to an Electric Rickshaw Designed for Indian Conditions

Paper #:
  • 2014-01-1968

  • 2014-04-01
  • 10.4271/2014-01-1968
Mehta, R., Shah, P., Gupta, H., Bhat, P. et al., "Conversion of a CNG Powered Auto Rickshaw to an Electric Rickshaw Designed for Indian Conditions," SAE Technical Paper 2014-01-1968, 2014, doi:10.4271/2014-01-1968.
Three wheeler taxis, commonly known as auto rickshaw are a popular means of transport in developing countries. However, low efficiencies and poor maintenance are common (especially in India). This results in high fossil fuel consumption, and very high urban air pollution due to these vehicles. Electrification of auto-rickshaw, therefore, is a potential solution to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, and reduce environmental pollution. However, this conversion is not straightforward. In this work, we investigate some of the challenges of converting an existing combustion engine powered auto-rickshaw to an electric auto rickshaw (electric vehicle (EV)). The cost of conversion to EV and sufficient charge storage capacity for driving range are important factors in the viability of such a conversion.The solution developed here is a design for low total ownership cost for short-range transport. The factors that affect the total cost of ownership are local availability of components, performance efficiency, actual cost of conversion, and skills available with local technicians. These constraints move the most suitable configuration away from configurations that are more typical in the developed economies, such as Li-Ion Batteries and brush-less DC motors (BLDC) to more affordable and well-known technologies such as lead acid batteries and permanent magnet DC motors (PMDC). In this paper, the relative merits of various configurations of batteries, motors and power transmission systems are discussed. Design variables are optimized for a specific top speed and driving range via simulations. The design is evaluated by on-road testing of the modified vehicle. The design challenges are described and the safety aspects and concerns are highlighted. An over-the-life cost comparison of the electrification of the rickshaw with conventional engine powered rickshaws is also discussed.
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