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Cell-operated cycles in Mumbai soon

December 14, 2005 15:13 IST

Worried about the rising fuel costs and pollution on the city roads? Mumbai streets may see an alternative and cheaper mode of transportation: Light weight, battery-operated bicycles are soon set to hit the Mumbai market for the first time.

Weighing between 50- 70 kg, and clocking up to a maximum speed of 40 km per hour, these battery operated bicycles (BOBs) have a weight carrying capacity of 80 kg. BOBs need to be recharged the way one charges a mobile phone - a minimal charge will hold good for 4 hours or will help to cover a distance of 40 km.

Balaji Import and Export, a Mumbai-based company, has entered into a tie-up with Zhejiang Import and Export Company in Shanghai to import the cycles from China. Manish Bhavnani, director, Balaji Import and Export, said the company has so far got over 1,700 booking orders.

They will be available in the price range of Rs 20,000 to Rs 25,000. " We have got many enquiries. 5,000 units of BOBs are on their way to India and will hit the market in two weeks time,'' he said.

But there is a catch - you cannot run these eco-friendly bikes on hi-speed zones like expressways. Although, the Road Transport Authority (RTA) has allowed these bikes the run of the city, they cannot step out into the expressways and highways.

"No license is required for riding a battery operated bicycle. But these are not permitted to ply on the highways like Eastern Express Highway and Western Express Highway."

Balaji Imports and Exports has set up two service centres in Mulund and Andheri and will expand its base once more orders come in. The bicycles will dock at Kandla port and Nhava Sheva within a week.

"We are planning to launch the bikes on 28 December. Compared with Delhi, the response in Mumbai has been better," Bhavnani noted. Zhejiang, Balaji's Chinese partner, is also a manufacturer of heavier bicyles, resembling the scooty.

"Depending on the response to the BOBs, we will consider importing the heavier bicycles from next year," Bhavani added.

The battery and the motor in the bicycle accounts for the weight. The battery which costs between Rs 1,800 to Rs 2,000 will last for three years.
Chandan Kishore Kant in Mumbai