Imagine going to work using a form of transport that barely drains your finances, is never too hot even without an air-conditioner, is eco-friendly and makes you feel safer than most other vehicles. And if you are stuck in traffic? Well, entertainment options also abound.
This could soon become a reality as Baagh Eco Taxi, the country's first home-made electric three-wheeler, is set to make a roaring entry by going into production this July and sales will begin in the first week of the month.
The "Made in Bangladesh" vehicle is being introduced by Baagh Motors.
"We set up a factory in Gazipur and will go into production this July," said Kazi Zasimul Islam Bappy, owner of Baagh Motors, adding that some machineries from China will reach within weeks and will be installed throughout June.
The current factory capacity is 5,000 units a month, he added.
In another milestone, Baagh Eco Taxi also became the first electric three-wheeler to obtain approval from the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) in March to ply on the roads.
Equipped chock-full of technological advancement and safety features, the vehicle has been priced at Tk6,25,000, Bappy said.
With a ride-sharing application, exclusive to the vehicle, already being mulled, Baagh Eco Taxi may just turn out to be the latest addition to an otherwise problem-plagued communication sector.
All the vehicles procured from Baagh Motors will be under an ecosystem designed by the company to ensure all its facilities are distributed across all the three-wheelers.
Currently, there are two models of the vehicle - one with a motor capacity of 1,500 watt and another with 1,800 watt.
Safety the priority
After passing rigorous testing and screening by the BRTA, Baagh Eco Taxi became the first electric vehicle to get official permission to ply the roads, whereas most other such vehicles are considered illegal.
But the approval wasn't easy and it took the company around two years.
"In April 2020, we manufactured 11 vehicles and since then we had been trying to get government approval to put the vehicles on the road. We finally got the nod in March," said owner Bappy.
The approval could have been helped by the vehicle's safety features.
The unique eco-friendly dual power- battery and solar- run three-wheeler has taken ample efforts to ensure utmost safety and the highest security, while being a comfortable option for passengers, Bappy said.
One such safety feature is the panic button placed in the passenger compartment. One push of the button will immediately bring the vehicle's speed down to five kilometres per hour.
Afterwards, the vehicle will become immobile for twenty minutes. At the same time, a signal will be sent to the control room, especially made for the vehicles, alerting the authorities. The authorities can then disable the function of the taxi.
The three-wheeler also comes equipped with security cameras, which will record and store all videos in a central server. This is alongside the real-time GPS tracking system embedded in the vehicles.
Bappy said they had also developed a vehicle monitoring system, which shows the three-wheeler's real-time location and also gives maintenance details through a mobile application.
On the make of the vehicle, Bappy said the company used high-grade steel, usually used for larger vehicles, to ensure endurance and durability.
The taxi will also have larger wheels than regular CNG-run three-wheelers and human-haulers, alongside having a hydraulic braking system with an anti-lock brake system (ABS) in place.
On the environmental side, Baagh Eco Taxi will use lithium-ion batteries. Existing batteries are made of lead and acid, which are harmful for the environment and also do not last for more than six months, Bappy explained.
On the other hand, lithium-ion batteries are environmentally-friendly and last for around seven years, he said.
Besides, a 480w solar panel can store 40% of charge during the daytime, adding an extra 40km to its capacity.
The vehicle also has many other features, including a dashboard monitoring system, anti-theft technology and speed monitoring.
Keeping it comfortable
The three-wheelers available on the roads of the country have two major drawbacks - they are noisy and they can get uncomfortably hot, especially when sitting in unmoving traffic under the beating sun.
Baagh Eco Taxi avoids both of these things.
Given that it is electric-run, the vehicle is almost noiseless. On the other hand, its interior - which comes with a ventilation system and fans - ensures that the inside temperature never exceeds 32 degrees Celsius.
If passengers of the taxi are stuck in traffic, they can also avail of unlimited internet services in the vehicle. There is also a tablet for passengers which can be used for entertainment or to conduct official business.
If a passenger's phone or laptop battery is about to die, there is also a charger cabinet in place.
To maximise the reach of the taxis, Bappy said the firm was mulling making a ride-sharing application, but would have to wait to see demand and the opportunities available.
"We have plans to use uniform colours for these easybikes for different areas or zones," he said.
Less bite on the pocket
At a time of rising costs, Baagh Eco Taxi can come as a relief.
The taxis run at a very low cost, which can be as less as Tk1.33 per km. With a full charge, the 1,500watt vehicle can run 90km, costing only Tk120 to the driver.
The 1,800 watt can go up to 80km.
For charging, Baagh Motors has developed a fast charging technology. The 60volt battery in the vehicle will take only 15 minutes to be fully charged.
Baagh will also soon be equipped with a motion-charging system, ensuring that the battery charges automatically while the vehicle is in motion.
Bappy also said many of the existing battery-run easy-bikes were charging by using illegal connections, but there was no scope for this when it came to the eco-taxi.
"It can only be charged at charging points we will build. A microchip with artificial intelligence (AI) has been installed in the charging port. The port can be opened through a mobile application. The charging will start once the vehicle owner makes a command, using the app, after paying the bill digitally for each charging session."
He said a battery bank would be set up to automatically charge the vehicles at night when demand for electricity was low.
"All our transactions will be made digitally and we have already reached agreements with 49 banks in this regard," he said. ***