The German–Indian start-up Nunam is bringing three electric rickshaws to the roads of India powered by used batteries taken from vehicles in the Audi e-tron test fleet. The aim of the project is to explore how modules made with high-voltage batteries can be reused after their car life cycle and become a viable second-life use case.
The e-rickshaws powered by second-life batteries are scheduled to hit the roads in India for the first time in a pilot project in early 2023. “The old batteries are still extremely powerful,” says Nunam cofounder Prodip Chatterjee. “When used appropriately, second-life batteries can have a huge impact, helping people in challenging life situations earn an income and gain economic independence – everything in a sustainable way.”
“Car batteries are designed to last the life of the car. But even after their initial use in a vehicle, they still have a lot of their power,” Chatterjee explains. “For vehicles with lower range and power requirements, as well as lower overall weight, they are extremely promising. In our second-life project, we reuse batteries from electric cars in electric vehicles; you might call it electric mobility ‘lite’. In this way, we’re trying to find out how much power the batteries can still provide in this demanding use case.”
With a high-energy-density battery and comparatively low vehicle weight, the electric motor doesn’t have to be particularly powerful, since rickshaw drivers in India travel neither fast nor far. While electrically powered rickshaws are not an uncommon sight on the roads of the subcontinent today, they often run on lead-acid batteries, which have a relatively short service life and are often not disposed of properly.