Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Eco-friendly rickshaws emerge as OOH medium

Eco-Activate plans to increase the number of E-rickshaws to 40 in October. Each rickshaw has an ad-space of about 180 sq. ft.

'Green Delhi and Clean Delhi' has long been the motto of the Delhi government. The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), along with Eco-Activate and Vodafone, has rolled out E-rickshaws - a much awaited, battery powered and eco-friendly mode of transportation.

E-rick, developed by Eco-Activate, offers a pollution free alternative mode of transportation in the national capital. Coming on the heels of the Commonwealth Games, these hybrid rickshaws have become an addition to the out of home (OOH) industry. Telecom service provider Vodafone is making an attempt, by associating with this project, to make a positive contribution towards conserving the environment.

The E-rick has a total advertising space of 180 sq. ft inside and outside and as part of the CSR initiative, the company has branded the entire fleet. "Partnering with this project is our way of making a positive contribution towards environment conservation," says Sanjay Warke, chief executive officer, Vodafone Essar Mobile Services, Delhi Circle. The branding on the vehicles has ensured enhanced visibility for Vodafone across the city.

Currently, there are about 25 such rickshaws running on five routes (five per route). These routes are Chandni Chowk, Vishwavidyalaya, Saket, Greater Kailash-II (GK-II) and Aurobindo Marg.

The routes have been identified keeping in mind commuter traffic across the city. "Areas such as Chandni Chowk are extremely congested and there is a need to provide alternate modes of transport," says Warke. They are also available in the North Campus area to facilitate students in and around the campus. Residential areas such as Saket and GK-II have E-rickshaws plying to ease traffic.

The company plans to increase the existing fleet to 40 vehicles in October and also plans to raise the fleet by 100 vehicles by the end of the year. The company has already tied up with MCD and is in an exclusive contract with it for 2000 vehicles.

It is also learnt that later, E-rick vehicles will run on routes such as Vikas Marg, Lajpat Nagar, Defence Colony, Janak Puri District Centre, Rajouri Garden, Karol Bagh and several other areas. These are expected to serve as the feeder service for the Delhi's Metro services.

Talking about the association with E-rick, Warke says, "It's the uniqueness of this initiative that influenced our decision to partner with Eco-Activate. The timing of the launch was apt, with the Commonwealth Games around the corner."

The vehicles also come with unique features such as GPRS devices that will ensure safety of passengers unfamiliar with the capital. Additionally, aspects such as drivers who speak English are bound to make travel more convenient for those not familiar with the local language.

Seating about two-three people, an E-rick ride in South Delhi area (Saket, GK-II and Aurobindo Marg) will cost Rs 15 per person per ride and in Vishwavidyalaya and Chandni Chowk, the charges are Rs 10 per person per ride.

Touted as the solution to Delhi's chronic traffic problem, E-rick is a hybrid service powered by batteries and aims to ensure reduction in carbon footprint with zero emissions. The battery needs 6 -8 hours of charging, after which it can power the rickshaw for 90 kms. The vehicle can cruise at a top speed of 25km/hour.

The production cost of an e-rickshaw is about Rs 1.75 lakh. The drivers for the E-rick are hired either through a manpower agency or are existing pedal pushers, who are paid minimum wages as applicable (about Rs 5000-6000 per month).

The safety measures taken to build the rickshaws make it not only safe for the environment but also for passengers. The rickshaws are made of Polyethylene - an elastic material which prevents overturning in case of collision.

Incidentally, E-rick fleets were present at a number of international events such as the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens; the Expo 2005 in Japan; and the 2006 Football World Championship in Germany.

Similar fleets were also used for very successful campaigns such as the Expo 2008 in Saragossa, Spain; the presidential elections in the US in 2008; and the Incredible India campaign in Japan (September 2008).

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