The electric vehicle, designed and built from scratch by a 50-member student team led by Professor Vikranth Racherla from the premier institute’s mechanical engineering department, has a powerful motor and lithium ion battery that can last up to six-seven years.
It also has a high load carrying capacity, sturdy frame and yet easy manoeuvrability, the institute said in a statement.
The concept prototype had a successful test run at the institute’s campus.
“Instead of retro-fitting an existing vehicle, we thought we would build one up from scratch, especially because the design is so important for an electric vehicle. Each design has been conceived, analysed, prototyped and the cycle repeated many times before the actual product came out,” said Racherla.
“DESHLA would prove to be the dawn of the ‘Make in India’ electric three wheeler vehicles popularly known as ‘Toto’ in this part of the country. Local Toto drivers who visited during the test run are excited with the vehicle design and the economics behind it,” said Sriman Kumar Bhattacharyya, the institute’s officiating director.
Electricity-run automobiles also called Totos are the rage today given their lower initial and running costs as compared to the expensive and polluting diesel autos. However, they are mostly made by local entrepreneurs who put together parts imported from China.
Bijoy Chatterjee, Life Fellow of IIT Kharagpur and emerging technology adviser, envisaged the design and fabrication of the electric three wheeler with improved electrical and mechanical functionalities that is lightweight and suited for urban use. The project was funded by industrialist and alumnus of IIT Kharagpur, Purnendu Chatterjee, Founder and Chairman of The Chatterjee Group (TCG).
Racherla and two other lead researchers Shyama Agrawal and Manuj Agrawal have already floated a start-up for commercialisation of the vehicle and are currently working on raising angel funding for industrial production.