Audi partnered with the Indian startup Nunam to create an electric rickshaw powered by old e-Tron batteries. The power units come for e-Tron test vehicles, which are already at the end of their typical lifecycle. Usually, Audi would regenerate the batteries with a very energy-intensive process. Using them on electric tuk-tuks would offer an alternative by repurposing them into less powerful vehicles with vastly lower performance requirements.
“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”, said Nunam cofounder Prodip Chatterjee. “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.”
Audi and Nunam have built three e-rickshaws so far and will test them on the road in India with the help of potential end-users. Considering that much of the electricity from the Indian grid is still produced using coal, Nunam has also devised a solar-powered charging solution that drivers can employ to charge a second tuk-tuk battery during the day. After they’ve been used in Tuk-Tuk, the batteries won’t be discarded just yet. According to Nunam, they will probably still be able to hold enough charge to power, for example, a LED lighting system for a house in a rural village.