Recounting the Journey of Mr. V K Kapoor

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    The Indian Economists & Industry Experts might have started talking about Electric Vehicles in 2016 but, Mr. V. K. Kapoor being a visionary, saw the future of the EV Industry way back in 2011 and created an electric vehicle that was perfectly suitable for the Indian market and named it Mayuri which justified its name and actually spread colors in the lives of the people which got associated with Electric Rickshaw business. This innovation changed the lives of lakhs of people for the good by giving them a source of income which was not really sought after earlier. Be it a rickshaw assembler or a spare part dealer, monetary growth was bound to happen as the invention created a chain of employment not only for the drivers but also for the makers of E-Rickshaws along with the entire eco system of the industry. 

    While everyone was occupied with the growth in traditional automobile techniques and infrastructure, there was one mechanical geek who was constantly thinking about a more conventional, eco-friendly mode of public transport which also saved human effort. Mr. V. K. Kapoor also known as the “Father of E-Rickshaw” strongly believed in the cause of a cleaner and greener India and thus got involved in sustainable technological innovations. An IIT graduate, took a pledge way back in 1972 ‘To give back to the society. A paddle rickshaw ride from Chandni Chowk car parking to the main market was all it took for Mr. Kapoor to manifest the pain that a rickshaw puller goes through on a daily basis.  

    After an intriguing conversation with the driver, he wanted to create a vehicle that is eco-friendly, runs at a very low cost and requires almost zero human effort. That is when E-Rickshaw was born in India. With a constant belief in creating self-employment for thousands of people, Mr. Kapoor always wanted to upgrade the status of the people from the lower-income group of the society by providing a more steady source of income. Now standing strong at 1200-1800 E-Rickshaws a month, thousands of lives have been changed for the better that too with a sustainable source of income and an eco-friendly means.

    Ideating such a concept in a conservative market like ours was never an easy business. It took a lot of trials to come up with a vehicle that was economically viable, environment friendly, created no trouble for the driver and had a low maintenance cost. After overcoming several pushbacks, Mr. Kapoor along with him small research team came up with a product which now has a huge share in the market and created almost 2.5 million jobs including drivers, mechanics, distributors, marketeers, spare part makers & dealers, battery and charger manufacturers, sales and admin staff and so many more. Now, when the country has been in this business for almost a decade, there are nearly 2 Lac E-Rickshaws running on the Indian roads on a daily basis. Needless to mention, India has become the top most country in the “Commercial Passenger Vehicle Segment” when it comes to Electric Vehicles.

    The Electric Rickshaw industry or even the Electric Vehicle industry as a whole is still scattered and unorganised in many ways. There are a lot of factors that hold back the growth of this industry. Finance being the priority, as no business can grow without any kind of financial aid. Since Electric Rickshaw stands in the category of Low built product, manufacturers are forced to import or trade the spare parts and assemble them rather than manufacturing the entire body by themselves. Not to mention, even the consumers are often unable to pay back the finance because of the inefficient product. There are nearly 650 players in the E-Rickshaw market now, out of which barely 25 players are manufacturing their products while others still choose to trade and assemble their products which eventually leads to damage and inefficiency of the product, as the body parts of the same rickshaw were not created under one roof. The other hurdle in the same race is of the government policies. There are still some traffic prone routes of a few cities in the country where E-Rickshaws are prohibited. To name a few – Jaipur, Dehradun, Lucknow, Varanasi, Hyderabad, Raipur and Ranchi are such cities. Another hiccup that the industry faces is that the Government subsidies and policies only focus on Products which are Lithium Ion battery based and conveniently ignore the Led-Acid products even when Led-Acid products have a larger share in the market as compared to Lithium Battery products.

    As there is a constantly growing need for us to move towards more sustainable and eco-friendly means of transport, there are few things that ultimately need to be done in order to bring the industry on the right track. The first and foremost step towards the goal is by keeping the financers in mind while making any new policies for Electric Vehicles Industry. NBFC (Non-Banking Financial Company) and Govt. institutions should have some mandatory contribution on loans in this ever-changing sector. Government banks should start complying to MOUs and Mudra loan guidelines. If any kind of restructuring of the product is required, the Govt. banks and institutions can convert these NPAs to Performing Assets. The focus of the government needs to be shifted towards replacing existing L5S rickshaws running on IC engine to electric vehicles within set simulated time frame.

    The ever-growing demand and need for a more sustainable mode of transport which also protects the environment, a lot of responsibilities also come up for the government. The government’s focus needs more inclination towards electric rickshaws and autos rather than on traditional IC engine run autos. The major contribution in the Indian E-Rickshaw market i.e. 40% comes only from 3 states, namely Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. This share also portrays the lack of contribution from other state governments and their policies which do not let the E-Rickshaws business spread across the country. When it comes to traffic prone areas, the government can always issue permits to a specific number of E-Rickshaw drivers and do not let the E-Rickshaws without the permit enter the premises of that route.

    The Electric Vehicle market needs a wholistic growth and support from the state & central governments while keeping the financers, manufacturers and consumers in mind all at once. An EV governing body can also be proposed for the ethical registration and smooth regulation of this industry and other businesses related to it. We just can not afford to overlook the future of the automobile sector that too when Greener and Cleaner energy is the need of the hour.

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