The term "rickshaw" covers a wide variety of vehicles around the world but in Nepal it usually refers to the three-wheeler you see pictured above. They used to create clouds of pollution in the capitol, Kathmandu, but the Vikram Tempo rickshaw, the fossil fuel burning version of this conveyance, has been outlawed since 1999. Since then, electric versions, or Safa Tempo, have been steadily increasing in numbers. Now, according to one retailer, Shree Eco Visionary (SEV), there are at least 650 EVs plying Kathmandu streets fulfilling the daily transportation needs of over 100,000 people. SEV hopes to see the number of Safa Tempo rise to 4,000 over the next five years.
Not only are the electric machines more eco-friendly, they are, after the initial purchase cost of $13,500 has been dealt with, much cheaper to run than their smoking counterparts. According to an article at IBN Live, the electric rickshaws cost about seven cents per kilometer, a figure that should remain low even as the price of oil climbs steadily higher. Capable of traveling up to 70 kilometers on a charge, the Safa Tempo are seen as a good low-tech solution to the problem of vehicle pollution in Nepal. To see a clip of these machines doing their thing on the streets of Kathmandu and listen to the original report, hit the jump.