State minister defends 4 million ‘Bangla Teslas’ on roads

Despite many complaints regarding battery-run autorickshaws, Nasrul Hamid wants to encourage their use

Published : 8 Feb 2024, 05:12 PM
Updated : 8 Feb 2024, 05:12 PM

State Minister for Power Nasrul Hamid says he wants to personally encourage the use of battery-run autorickshaws despite the many complaints against them.

He described the three-wheel electric vehicles as ‘Bangla Teslas’ in parliament.

“We want them to shift from lead batteries to lithium batteries,” he said. “We are undertaking a pilot project to push for it.”

The state minister highlighted the government initiatives on the vehicles in response to a question from ruling party MP Shamim Osman during a parliamentary session on Thursday.

Osman asked for the battery-run autorickshaws to be banned.

“Battery-run autorickshaws are operating,” he said. “Batteries are being installed on rickshaws too. These are very dangerous and their use is banned. These autorickshaws are charged with stolen electricity 90 percent of the time. They use up 700-800 MW of power. Why shouldn’t we take a special initiative to bar their use nationwide in one go?”

In response, Hamid said, “These are called electric vehicles. A revolution is underway across the world to try and see how quickly our transportation systems can be converted to electric. It has to advantages. The efficiency level of an oil-powered engine is 20 percent. On the other hand, if you conserve your energy on an electric, the efficiency is 80 percent.”

“Basically, we encourage electric vehicles to come to market as soon as possible. If it costs Tk 100 to move one kilometre on an oil-powered vehicle, it costs Tk 20 to travel that distance on an electric-powered vehicle.”

Hamid said there were 4 million battery-run three-wheelers in Bangladesh.

They use lead batteries, which take 7-8 hours to charge. But, if they switch to lithium batteries, they can charge in only a half hour.

A pilot project will be undertaken ‘soon’ to convert the batteries from lead to lithium, the state minister said, adding that it will be done through cooperation with GID.

“I call these 4 million three-wheelers Bangla Teslas. We’ve made them with our own hands. With our own capacity for innovation. We don’t want to obstruct them. Yes, there can be mechanical flaws. But the return on vehicles that use electricity is much higher. Those 4 million rickshaw drivers who use electricity are definitely earning an income.”

Hamid highlighted the policy of installing electric vehicle charging stations last year, saying that anyone can install a charging station according to the policy.