Audi, Nunam to use second-life e-tron batteries for electric rickshaws

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Audi teams up with German–Indian startup Nunam to bring three electric rickshaws in India that draw power from second-life Audi e-tron batteries. The e-rickshaws are scheduled to hit the roads in India for the first time in a pilot project in early 2023.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • How many e-rickshaws will Audi and Nunam bring to India?

    A test pilot is scheduled in early 2023 which will see three e-rickshaws put through their paces in India.
  • Aside from the abovementioned prototypes, are there other e-rickshaws produced by Audi and Nunam?

    Per Audi, an additional show e-rickshaw will be built and will be displayed at the Greentech Festival in Berlin on June 22.
  • “The old batteries are still extremely powerful. 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,” said Nunam Co-founder Prodip Chatterjee.

    The goal of the start-up company is to develop ways to use old batteries as second-life power storage systems, thus both extending their lives and using resources more efficiently.

    “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. 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,” Chatterjee explained.

    The non-profit start-up based in Berlin and Bangalore is funded by the Audi Environmental Foundation. The startup developed the three prototypes in collaboration with the German automotive brand’s training team at its Neckarsulm site, which in turn benefits from the intensive intercultural exchange.

    While electrically powered rickshaws are not an uncommon sight in India, the abovementioned prototypes run on high-energy-density batteries that can be recharged using solar power compared to the typical electric rickshaws that use lead-acid batteries, which have a relatively short service life and are often not disposed of properly.

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    Performance and range of the prototypes are continuously monitored by Nunam which makes the data available to potential imitators and encourages the reproduction of the said technology.

    “Initiatives like the one pioneered by Nunam are needed to find new use cases for e-waste. Not only in India, but worldwide. So Nunam shares its knowledge to motivate more initiatives to develop products with second-life components that can drive the eco-social revolution forward,” says Audi Environmental Foundation Director Rüdiger Recknagel.

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    Aside from the abovementioned prototypes, the trainees at the Neckarsulm site are developing an additional show rickshaw in cooperation with Nunam. The said show rickshaws will be displayed at the Greentech Festival in Berlin, on June 22.

    “The trainees and Nunam are in constant communication with each other — we have a dedicated line between Neckarsulm and Bangalore. In building the show rickshaw, our trainees are focusing on range, charging time, and design — the result is a rickshaw with Audi’s DNA,” commented Audi Neckarsulm Site Automotive Engineering Head Timo Engler.

    Photos from Audi

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