This site uses cookies and similar technologies.

If you not change browser settings, you agree to it. Learn more

I understand

Sustainable tuk tuk


ico ambiente internaindtuk

Switching to a sustainable auto-rickshaw system: triggering sustainable lifestyles and poverty reduction in urban India




Bengaluru and Chennai



From March 2016 to February 2020



Auto-rickshaws are a landmark feature of Indian cities and an indispensable aspect of urban mobility for millions of people. The auto-rickshaw sector could play a key role in shaping a sustainable urban transport ecosystem; it is, however, still an inefficient sector that neither answers appropriately to the changing dynamics of urban mobility in India, nor embeds a sustainable pattern of transportation. This, combined with inadequate sector governance, creates significant problems for both drivers and passengers, resulting in negative economic, environmental and social externalities. The project uses a social enterprise work model to make auto-rickshaws a more sustainable (socially, economically and environmentally) public transport option in the target location, which could be replicated to other cities as well.



Overall objective:

  • The project aims at promoting sustainable lifestyles and poverty reduction while reducing CO2 emissions and air pollution in India. This project wishes to influence consumers’ choices concerning mobility while tackling main challenges affecting auto-rickshaw drivers, a very marginalized group, and belong to the lower income groups of Indian society.

Specific objective:

  • Promoting the scaling up of a replicable and integrated model of sustainable auto-rickshaw transport, based on cleaner technologies, that will efficiently induce passengers’ and operators’ to shift and adopt Sustainable Consumption and Production practices (SCP) related to mobility, first in the Cities of Bangalore and Chennai and in the long run to many other urban settlements.

The project provides an integrated solution where each of the individual components – consumers centred service design, financial services, and alternative revenue channels – ads strength to the others. The action will be devoted to facilitating consumers to make a more responsible choice thereby contributing to a greener economy and to support auto-rickshaw drivers’ SMEs in the uptake of SCP practices (e.g. purchasing auto-rickshaws with upgraded engines) resulting in tangible and measurable environmental improvements (reduction of CO2 and PM10 emissions).



  • Design and implementation of behavioral change and marketing campaigns on the use of sustainable auto-rickshaw and sustainable mobility systems. Development of a marketing strategy for selling advertisement spaces on auto-rickshaws.
  • Creation and strengthening of auto rickshaw driver organizations. Development of insurance schemes for auto-rickshaw drivers and training for drivers on how to access financial products.
  • Analysis and calculation of carbon footprint of four stroke auto-rickshaw.
  • Joint definition of CSR strategies of auto-rickshaws’ business partners for the promotion of green auto-rickshaws.
  • Establishment of agreements between driver organizations and rickshaws’ manufacturers to facilitate purchase of eco-friendly auto-rickshaws.
  • Benchmarking study and exchange of best practices in Europe and Asia on urban transportation regulations.
  • Participatory sessions for analysis of obstacles for full implementation of policies. Capacity building sessions for local and state authorities (policy makers and technical staff) and capacity building seminars for national networks and information platforms on exchange and peer learning tools. Identification and dissemination of policy instruments for the improvement of regulatory framework of the auto-rickshaw system.
  • Negotiation of framework agreements for common actions with key stakeholders for the promotion of sustainable auto-rickshaws and sustainable mobility.



Direct beneficiaries: 13,000 Auto-rickshaw drivers, at least 75,000 people in the two cities of Bengaluru and Chennai.

Indirect beneficiaries: Auto rickshaw manufacturers, Driver SME’s, Families of Auto- rickshaw drivers, Service providers such as a banks, Insurance companies etc, People living in project areas, local , state and national authorities, local partners of the action, tourists and tourist intermediaries.



Sustainability will be developed at four levels:

  • Technical and environmental level: the usage of 4 stroke auto-rickshaw is more sustainable: fuel efficiency is at least 20% better and CO2 emissions are about 30% lower compared to the 2-stroke ones. The number of 4-stroke auto-rickshaw, substituting the more polluting 2-stroke ones will increase by 5%: 10.000 cleaner vehicles will circulate. A system to measure Co2 emission saving will be put in place, basis for a deeper change.
  • Economic and financial levels: the project will contribute to the improvement of economic conditions of the drivers and their families, a very marginalised segment. The income of the drivers will increase, they will have access to low interest loans from financial institutions and so they will own their auto-rickshaws. In this way they do not have any expenditure for the rental and they evolve as a bankable customer segment.
  • Social level: the huge behavioral change campaign targeting 2.500.000 urban citizens and 10.000 tourists will increase the number of drivers owning an a 4 stroke autorickhaw and the passengers preferring to choose to use the new sustainable urban transport model. By promoting financial inclusion, enabling ownership of vehicles and accessing to insurance schemes will foster social inclusion for the auto-rickshaw drivers targeted.
  • Policy level: the project will contribute to increase awareness and capacities among local and state authorities (both policy-makers and implementers) on urban transport related policies. The project will develop the definition of two voluntary documents signed by the key stakeholders (the CSR Voluntary Code of Practice and the Sustainable auto-rickshaw Action Plan).


Total value:
1,554,742.10 €

Principal funder:

SWITCH Asia logo

  • The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI)
  • Stichting Enviu Nederland( Enviu Foundation)
  • WHAD (Women Health and Development)