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India's Rural Poor Are Taking to the Road on Electric Bikes, Mopeds

Affordable two-wheeled electric vehicles are giving India's rural villages a new mobility option that improves their lives and economic opportunities.

Published: 07-Jan-2014

SULUR VILLAGE, India -- For Aaruchamy Mayilchamy, the desperate yearning for modern transportation began last year, when the 62-year-old could no longer bear the pain in his knees after decades of cycling on bumpy countryside roads.

But switching to a non-man-powered vehicle is not an easy matter in rural India. Bus companies do not operate there, and villagers like Mayilchamy can't afford a private car. Plus, he is too old to get a driver's license.

The homoeopathy doctor thought he would not be able to continue his journey to treat patients. Then, nine months ago, he passed by an electric vehicle showroom in a nearby town. Mayilchamy went in for a demonstration and went out with an electric bike. Now, he is among a small yet growing population in India that rides around on battery-powered vehicles.

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