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Three Wheels United Launches Buyback Programme To Accelerate Adoption of E-auto-rickshaws

The launch of the programme is in line with TWU’s committed plan to finance 10,000 electric vehicles (EVs) in the next one year and 100,000 EVs by 2024.

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Three Wheels United (TWU), a Bangalore based social enterprise that offers holistic financing solutions for auto drivers to own a light electric vehicle, has launched an auto-rickshaw buy-back scheme to promote the adoption of electric Auto Rickshaws in India. The launch of the programme is in line with TWU’s committed plan to finance 10,000 electric vehicles (EVs) in the next one year and 100,000 EVs by 2024.

The buyback scheme has been launched with two key objectives

1)To accelerate electric vehicle adoption in India guiding millions of Drivers towards the eco-friendly EV option

2)To improve income for Drivers who switch from conventional vehicles to EV

As reported byGreenpeace South East Asia, the economic cost of air pollution is estimated to be $150 billion in India. Clean transport can contribute to a significant reduction in toxic pollutants. India has over 12 million auto-rickshaw drivers operating a fleet of over 6 Million vehicles that contribute to 21 million tonnes of CO2 annually. A report byTERI on vehicular emissions from auto-rickshaws plying in Bengaluru states that approximately 1200 tonnes of carbon dioxide, 4 tonnes of NOx and 0.5 tonnes of PM10 are emitted daily. These figures indicate that a switch from conventional engines to electric Auto Rickshaws can considerably reduce carbon emissions and substantially contribute towards bringing down air pollution.

Electric 3-wheelers are more attractive for a driver due to a lower total cost of ownership and higher profitability (TWU, ENEA, 2019). But currently, 50% of the auto-rickshaw drivers in India rent their vehicle because they lack financing that works for them, and therefore can’t make the shift to electric.

TWU is taking an innovative and holistic approach to enabling the adoption of electric auto-Rickshaws, using innovative technology, a community approach and tailored financial products. They are now working to make this shift even easier through a buy-back program.  

The current government schemes aimed at removing older vehicles have their challenges, mainly that it is very difficult for a vehicle to qualify. This means older, highly pollutive vehicles continue to ply the roads.

To make the switch to EVs even more accessible for drivers, TWU is working with large manufacturers, such as Mahindra Electric to buy-back and scrap vehicles older than ten years. This buy-back amount then goes toward the down payment of the EV. The old vehicles will be scrapped following the state scrapping policies and wherever applicable, TWU will assist the drivers in applying for government subsidies. The buyback amount will be used as a down payment towards the loan for the new EV. The programme has been launched in Bangalore and will soon be extended to Hyderabad, Kerala, and Delhi.

Commenting on the programme, Cedrick Tandong, CEO, Three Wheels United said “A programme like this gives the right push towards the government’s green mobility initiatives. This scheme provides a great opportunity for auto rickshaw drivers to increase their income and positively impact the environment. We aim to help auto-rickshaw drivers make the shift from driving old pollutive vehicles to driving their own electric vehicles. This program is a big step towards replacing old pollutive vehicles on our streets, and to accelerate the initiative which most state governments are currently working on”.

Commenting on this new scheme, Mahesh Babu, CEO, Mahindra Electric said “As pioneers of electric vehicles in India, we are happy to partner with Three Wheels United to accelerate the adoption of Mahindra Treo electric auto in India. The buyback scheme will definitely make it easier for auto drivers to switch to sustainable and more economically viable products like Mahindra Treo. This will ease financing options and reduce the upfront cost burden for auto drivers.”

Three Wheels United has till date offered over 30,000 drivers various products and services and has financed over 2500 auto rickshaws with a default rate of less than 1%, resulting in the reduction of 28,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions, and the generation of an extra $90M in income for the drivers.


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