A first-order for 33 auto-rickshaws was received from Nepal, of which 22 were already shipped on Tuesday, while talks are on with Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Kenya.
Named Neem G, KAL plans to manufacture 500 auto-rickshaws annually. KAL, which had been involved in the manufacturing of petrol and diesel auto-rickshaw over the past many decades, even used to export auto-rickshaws to Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. But the exports came to a standstill by 2007.
The Thiruvananthapuram-based KAL, which started functioning in 1978, forayed into electric auto-rickshaw manufacturing last year.
While components like 2.2-kilowatt motor and battery are procured from firms within India, the basic components are manufactured and assembled by KAL. It can travel around 50 kilometres on a single charge. The cost of the auto-rickshaw would be around Rs 3 lakh including taxes.
Kerala Industries Minister E P Jayarajan said that talks were progressing with dealers in states like Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Delhi.
KAL sources said that all the major components of the auto-rickshaw were made in India and hence steps were being taken to bring it as a ‘Make in India’ product.
KAL had stopped petrol and diesel auto-rickshaw production as the new pollution norms came into effect. The public sector firm was going through uncertainties over the future. Hence the e-auto-rickshaw is a ray of hope for its revival. The state government allotted Rs 5 crore to support KAL to face the crisis due to Covid-19.