Mr Pawan Goenka of Mahindra and Mahindra, launching the hydrogen-powered three-wheeler ‘HyAlfa’ in New Delhi.
Cool. Soon there will be 15 hydrogen-powered ‘green’ trishaws plying the Galle Fort (where trishaws are currently banned, apparently, though I’ve seen them there). This is funded by UNIDO (United Nations Industrial Dev) and I’m assuming the trishaws are Mahindra HyAlfas, which have previously debuted in Delhi. This is only a test in Sri Lanka, but a damn cool one.
Trishaws are actually fairly fuel-efficient as is, at least compared to cars and, like, Prados. Well maintained they’re not that noxious, but they can be. A ‘green’ trishaw, however, is an obvious improvement. This isn’t a commercial model, but Mahindra has said “The price of HyAlfa could be Rs.20,000-25,000 more than a CNG three-wheeler, which costs around Rs.2-lakh, in case of its mass production”. So that’s about 5.5 lakhs in Sri Lanka. Thing is, a normal trishaw costs about 3.5 plus, and these numbers are highly affected by taxes, making Sri Lanka a fertile testing ground. As with hybrids, not taxing the eco option can lead to much higher uptake.
Hydrogen, however, also requires infrastructure, but for contained places like Galle, Colombo and Kandy this wouldn’t be insanely difficult. If all the pieces come together, I think we should cut down car traffic to certain areas, or at certain times – like, say, around the Beira Lake during Vesak. As a fleet of normal city buses and better trishaws come online, this is looking more and more appealing.