In India there are around one million auto rickshaws. Together, they’re responsible for 10% of the country’s CO2 emission. Besides CO2 emission, the auto rickshaws produce such amount of smog, that on a big scale, people are suffering eye- and respiratory infections.
In 2006, Enviu founder Stef van Dongen made a trip to India. On his visit to India’s third largest city Bangalore, Stef was in search of an ATM. After a local auto rickshaw driver dropped him off at a bank, Stef started wondering… While taking out his money of the machine, the auto rickshaw driver was waiting with the engines of his vehicle still running. The stench that came out of the outlet of the vehicle was unbearable. “Isn’t there something we do anything about this?” he questioned.
Auto Rickshaw’s negative effect our environment
Auto rickshaws drive on LPG and benzine. Gasoline is an expensive resource for the rickshaw drivers. From the 100 euro they make a month, 90 euro go to buying gasoline. That’s why often gasoline is replaced by kerosene, which is cheaper but far more polluting.
Enviu launching the Tuk Tuk Battle
In 2008 Enviu launched the Tuk Tuk Battle in India and the Netherlands. The Tuk Tuk Battle called for student teams to design an upgrade kit for auto rickshaws. Instead of designing a whole new auto rickshaw, the aim was to design an affordable upgrade kit for existing vehicles that could clean petrol emissions, and achieve a reduction of 30 to 60% in CO2 emission.
Participants were also challenged to think of solutions to improve the livelihood of auto rickshaw drivers. Indian rickshaw drivers earn around four to five euro a month and are part of the Base of the Pyramid. The technical solution needed to be supported by an impact driven business model. That’s why technical students were supported by business students- and professionals.
From idea to startup
Student teams have been working for 12 months on the designs of their eco friendly auto rickshaw upgrade kits. During the finals in July 2009, two winners were rewarded for their designs. Designs were efficient and affordable, like requested during the Tuk Tuk Battle. Some teams were able to turn their ideas into new startups. Inspired by all submissions, Enviu founded Three Wheels United.
TWU has developed a business model based on three principles: access to financial and social services, alternate sources of revenue and cleantech for auto-rickshaw engines. TWU aims for financial inclusion for drivers, social security, driver-ownership of auto-rickshaws, higher incomes and positive environmental impact.
Facts & figures