FAQs about Retrofitment of electric 3Ws – answered by Avinash Reddy

Envirosmart is a Hyderabad based startup providing retrofitting kits and services to convert ICE based 3 Wheelers to electric. They are among the first players in the country to get ARAI certification for their retrofitment kits. With this QnA, its founder Avinash Reddy aims to answer the most frequently asked questions about retrofitting 3Ws.

Why retrofit? What are the economical and environmental benefits of retrofitting electric 3Ws?

A vehicle fitted by Electric Retro-fitment kits uses almost entirety of the body frame from the original vehicles. It provides the same economic and environmental benefits which a new electric vehicle of similar specification provides, while also enabling the re-use of body parts and materials which are otherwise disposed of. This is beneficial in reducing both – the cost of acquiring a new Electric Vehicle and the quantity of scrap generated out of old vehicles.

The main consumers of such kits are in the 3-wheeler segment, which include auto-owners/small business owners, who are from the lower income groups and cannot afford higher prices of new EVs. Retro-fitted EVs are beneficial for such vehicle owners since there is no fuel cost and no regular maintenance required just like new EVs.

Retro fitment helps in the growth of electric market in India by reducing the upfront cost of the vehicle and the raw material supply demand for the electric vehicle manufacturing sector. Retro fitment of existing vehicles will additionally help maintain the traffic on road by reducing the influx of new (electric) vehicles on road without additional measures to replace the older (ICE) vehicles.

A brief detail of the various benefits of electric vehicles is given below:

Economic benefits of retrofitting

Retro fitment of passenger 3W costs about Rs.1,60,000/- including the battery and inclusive of all taxes. Comparative analysis of new Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) 3-wheeler vehicle, new electric 3-wheeler vehicle and Retrofitted vehicles over the span of 5 years is included in the below table. 

*Driver Survey Source – Paper on estimating vehicular emissions from auto rickshaws plying in Bengaluru (2018) by Palak Thakur, Sugandha Pal, ** TERI study – Roadmap for electrification of urban freight in India (2020)

The above analysis shows that retrofitment of existing ICE vehicles provide a saving of Rs.5,18,000/- over the period of 5 years compared to purchasing a new ICE vehicle. And an upfront saving of Rs. 90,000/- can be obtained upon retrofitment instead shifting to a new electric 3W. 

Environmental benefits of retrofitting

ICE vehicles are the biggest sources of air pollution globally. Two third of the air pollution in urban areas is caused by ICE vehicles which directly affect the human health and ecology. A study published in the International Journal of Scientific & Engineering Research determines annual emissions of a single ICE auto to be 3.72 tons of CO2, 0.014 tons of NOx and 0.004 tons of PM 10 (particulate matter). It is estimated there are about 65 lakh passenger autos and about equal number of goods carriage autos of 3-wheeler in India. Emissions from these vehicles can be reduced by converting or by replacing them with electric vehicles. Retro fitment can further reduce the emissions caused from manufacturing activity of new electric vehicle, thereby making it a more environment friendly compared to manufacturing a new electric vehicle. 

Is retro fitment allowed? What are the permissions required?

Central Government has framed standards to be adhered for the retrofitted vehicles. The retro fitment kit needs to be tested and certified (this is termed as homologation). The retrofitted vehicle also needs to be homologated either by ARAI or ICAT as per BIS standards. Post homologation, permission from local state transport authorities needs to be acquired upon which retro fitment can be carried out for the specific vehicles. Post retro-fitment, the vehicle needs to be registered again at the RTO as an electric vehicle.

The company doing the electric retro fitment for the ICE vehicles which are approved by ARAI or ICAT are treated as the manufacturers of that vehicle. All the documents like owner’s manual, service manual, warranty booklet and other documents required for the RTO will be provided by the manufacturer at par with the new vehicle manufacturer.

Retrofitted Powertrain

Is retro fitment incentivised by government?

FAME 2 does not offer incentives on retrofitted vehicles, but many state EV policies support it. Telangana EV policy has included subsidy of 15% or INR 15,000 for first 3000 retrofitments of passenger 3eVs. Karnataka EV policy also encourages retrofitting existing ICE 3Ws to electric.

How does the performance of a retrofitted e3W compare with an original e3W (with comparable motor and battery specs)?

Performance of the new e3W and retrofitted e3W is the same. Both are driven by the powertrain including the battery. Both the e3W vehicles have similar speed and range if the motor and battery specifications are same. 

Our retrofitted e3W has a 3kW motor. It carries the same load as the new e3Ws which are recently launched in the market. As we are using 60 volts power, the pick-up is higher which is required for the Indian road conditions and load pattern. Our retrofitted passenger 3-wheeler gives a range of 100 kms on a full charge and the e3W cargo can run 75 kms per single full charge.

How does the price of your retrofitted e3W compare against buying an original e3W (with the same motor and battery specs)?

The on-road price of new electric vehicles (with similar specs to ours) is around Rs. 3 lakhs and our retro fitment cost about Rs.1.6 lakhs. Overtime, this amount is expected to reduce considerably with reduction in battery prices. Considering an average resale value of the older vehicles (which are being retrofitted) to be around Rs. 40,000 – the value of vehicle once retrofitted shall be about Rs. 2 lakhs which is as good as a new e3W.  

What parameters need to be considered to identify the suitability of a vehicle for retrofitment?

The vehicle chassis is the first and foremost thing that needs to be checked for doing the retro fitment. A damaged or weak chassis can affect the functional safety of the vehicle post retro fitment and reduce the life of the retrofitted vehicle. Proper functioning of other components like brake, electrical, suspension and steering systems along with the tyres needs to be checked during retro fitment.  

What are the challenges involved in retrofitting a passenger electric 3W? 

The foremost challenge is to ensure passenger safety. One needs to ensure:

– Alignment of the electric train without disturbing or damaging the original chassis and cross members.

– Equal distribution of weight for a steady, safe, and balanced drive.

– Safe and a high-quality electric wiring.

– High quality of material to be used to withstand the pressure and load of the power train.

– Company trained technician is present for Pre Delivery Inspection.

What are the challenges involved in retrofitting a cargo electric 3Ws?

As the load carrying capacity and the weight of the cargo e3W is much more compared to passenger e3W, special care is to be taken to overcome the load and pressure of the power train.

Because of the heavy load, the wiring should be made accordingly to withstand the high current and heat generated by the powertrain.

Drivers to be trained to drive the e3W cargo and made to understand the Dos and Don’ts to get the maximum performance and mileage.

What is Envirosmart’s next phase of action?

Our retrofitment currently uses fixed battery system. We are also working towards providing an option to go for swappable battery system which will remove the upfront cost to be paid for the battery. There are vendors who are coming forward to collaborate with us in setting up swapping infrastructure. We are also working on retrofitment for 4-wheeler cargo vehicles and plan to launch them in a couple of months. 

Y Avinash Reddy – Founder, Envirosmart. Avinash did his Graduation from the Indian Institute of Technology (BHU), Varanasi in the field of Environmental Engineering and completed Master’s studies at Carnegie Mellon University. He founded Envirosmart in 2018.

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One thought on “FAQs about Retrofitment of electric 3Ws – answered by Avinash Reddy

  • i am interested in EV 3W Segment and had read a few articles fwd by my friends which was really uesful.

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