A sketch of the Rural Utility
Vehicle (RUV) prototype designed by a Delhi engineer that
could make transport safer in India's rural areas.
New Delhi: India's
rural mobility scenario could soon see a much-awaited change with
a Delhi engineer's indigenously developed vehicle set to give the
locally made but accident-prone 'jugaads' a run for their money -
that is, as soon as he gets funds for commercial production.
Abhinav Das, a 26-year-old mechanical engineer from Delhi's Guru
Gobind Singh Indraprastha University is confident that if and when
he gets the funds, his Rural Utility Vehicle (RUV) will prove to
be a boon for the dwellers of rural india.
"I had designed a vehicle for an inter-college off-road contest
while in college but soon realised that if properly modified, it
would be perfect for the off-road and no-road conditions in rural
India," Das told IANS in an interview.
The annual off-road event, the Baja Rally, is organised by the
Society of Automobile Engineers (SAE) at Indore and serves as a
stage for young engineering students to showcase their designing
and manufacturing talents.
After a stint at the International Center for Automotive
Technology (ICAT) and automobile-parts major Sona-Koyo, Das left
for the Incubation Center at the National Institute of Design (NID),
Ahmedabad, where he got the funds to further develop his idea.
Pursuing his goal, he travelled extensively in the rural
heartlands of northern India, gaining a deeper understanding of
the harsh realities of the poor infrastructure available in the
"Millions of villages lack road connectivity. Every day 50 million
girls walk up to 40 kilometres to fetch water which in turn
results in their dropping out of school," said Das.
"According to UN studies, in rural India, the majority of deaths
in childbirth happen because medical help can't reach on time. My
aim is to provide these people a better mobility solution as in
such areas, mobility is hugely empowering," he added.
After three years of struggle, the first prototype of his RUV is
ready and all he needs is some investors who will believe in his
"Its innovative chassis design means the structural strength of
the RUV is better than the mini-trucks plying on Indian roads and
three to four times stronger than the three- wheelers," he said,
adding the RUV can be legally used on the road and is less
polluting unlike the 'jugaads'.
Jugaads are locally made vehicles used mostly as a means of
low-cost transportation in rural areas. With poor brakes,
agricultural pump engines, faulty structures, they are often
overloaded and are a disaster waiting to happen.
"The RUV can be easily transformed from people carrier to goods
carrier and can be serviced locally and cheaply. The 12 horsepower
power take-off (PTO) can be used for pumping, spraying or even
power generation in rural areas, just like the tractors," he
A PTO is a splined driveshaft, usually on a tractor or truck, that
allows implements to draw energy from the vehicle's engine.
Powered by a Greaves-Cotton 600 cc diesel engine, Das' RUV would
have a top speed of 50 to 60 kmph.
"Couple of years down the line, depending on customer demands, the
RUV can be adapted to run on green fuels like CNG or electricity
too," says Das.
According to Das, his vehicle would be the perfect substitute for
the 'jugaad' as it can do everything that the 'jugaad' does but in
a much refined and safe manner.
And the price of the RUV is not too high for the intended market.
"An average jugaad costs around Rs. 1.25 lakh. At Rs.1.5 lakh, a
finished RUV will cost only Rs.25,000 more and would in turn
provide a much safer ride. In our surveys, most of the jugaad
users were more than willing to shell out the extra cash," he
(Nikhil Walia can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)