Goods vehicles, largely diesel-run, have been causing a significant amount of traffic congestion and emissions in Kochi city, while making last-mile deliveries to shops, offices and hotels, besides other commercial establishments. Now, the city is set for an important transformation, driven by a growing transition from internal combustion engine-operated cargo three-wheelers to electric vehicles.
A significant achievement was marked recently, with the inauguration of 18 electric cargo three-wheelers by Hon’ble Justice of Kerala High Court Shri. Devan Ramachandran and Hon’ble Mayor Adv. Shri Anil Kumar at an event held in Kochi on the 15th September 2022, under ICLEI South Asia’s EcoLogistics initiative. Justice Ramachandran said that the initiative to shift to e-cargo vehicles was a much-awaited one, as it would help to reduce the country’s dependence on imported fossil fuels. He added that the greatest advantage of an electric vehicle was its performance and efficiency, which was as much as 60 percent when compared to the 20 percent provided by fossil fuel-run vehicles.
More than 150 people from the public and private sectors attended the event in Kochi. The project aims to demonstrate the financial viability and performance of e-cargo three-wheelers, and encourage consumers to promote a large-scale transition to electric vehicles. The handing over of the e-cargo three-wheelers was carried out as a demonstration project under the EcoLogistics project, which is being supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action through its International Climate Initiative (IKI) programme.
The KMC shortlisted 20 beneficiaries, while ICLEI South Asia has co-funded up to 40 percent of the showroom price of the e-cargo vehicles. The identified beneficiaries come from diverse sectors, such as distributors of vegetables, gas, drinking water, food and courier packages, among others, to achieve a wider impact. Additionally, ICLEI will support the procurement of three more e-cargo three-wheelers later, which will be used to distribute low-cost meals as part of the Samridhi initiative started by the KMC. The representation of women in the urban logistics sector is negligible, hence one of the major initiatives of the project is to promote gender equality by training women to drive the e-cargo three-wheelers.
As per NITI Aayog, around 8 million light goods vehicles are expected to be operational in the urban delivery segment by 2030 (56 % of the total freight vehicles). Therefore, the joint initiative by ICLEI South Asia, Kochi Municipal Corporation, and the private sector, with support from the Kochi Metropolitan Transport Authority, highlights the determination of the city to make a big difference in decarbonising urban logistics, improving efficiency, and also increasing gender equity by providing customised training to women beneficiaries for increased participation in urban logistics. The initiative will make efforts to convert all cargo carrier autorickshaws in the city into e-LCVs in a phased manner. The performance of the fleet of e-LCVs will be monitored over a three-month period, on parameters like operational expense, life cycle cost, and carbon footprint, vis-a-vis their diesel counterparts. These and allied aspects like their load-carrying capacity and operational range, which is expected to be up to 120 km after a recharge, will be documented to convince traders of their viability and capability in containing pollution.