Solar rickshaw by SolarLab



London-based research and design company SolarLab is developing a solar-powered rickshaw.


The vehicle, which is due to be launched next year, will derive up to 75% of its power from photovoltaics mounted on its roof, and the rest from pedal power.


Here's some info from SolarLab:



As a London-based company, we understand the tangible effects of pollution and congestion in our city. Our solar rickshaw will offer a radical transport solution for tourists and residents of any major metropolis. More importantly, our design is modular enabling easy conversion to load-bearing vehicles for inner city logistics and supply-chain requirements.


We have a vision of reducing C02 emissions in London by up to 2 tons per rickshaw. The solar generator will create 75% of the total power need to drive the vehicle, while the remaining 25% will be provided by the drivers' pedal-power. The physical exertion needed will be dramatically less than that of even a standard bicycle, much less a traditional rickshaw, allowing any driver, not just athletes, to drive the vehicles.

Posted on Wednesday May 28th 2008 at 7:48 am by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • CPCP

    100% pedal power at night lol!!

  • what happened to 100% people power? Making it a little too easy to earn a living..

  • Amazing! This is like Dymaxion Car by Buckminster Fuller…

  • edward

    The Dymaxion was 20′ long! The Bubble cars made just after WWII to fill a demand for cheap fuel efficient transportation are closer to the SolarLab concept, though they had two front wheels and one back I had a pedal car as a boy, and it worked quite well. I wonder though just how much pollution will be reduced as buses and large delivery lorries will still be required.

  • Will

    Do the brakes also recharge the batteries? 75% solar power is being optimistic imo

  • Muhar Sukulai

    Good design, bad styling, bad rendering.

  • Fling

    I know that you don’t have to be an athlete to drive this, but why not get athletes to drive bigger pedal vehicles capable of carrying out haulage and multi passenger work across the continent and beyond? With the current crisis with diesel and petrol prices, we could use this natural resource to good effect, and they only need time off for the olympics (once every 4 years). It would be good for the environment, and in addition can also serve as training for the athletes and make them feel as though they are making a contribution to the greater good.

  • Juan is alot more interesting but this seems more or a reach than concrete

  • banalor

    I love this in concept, but as mentioned what about night riding. I dont think the collective will of every green obsessed londen resident will keep the battery filled when the suns not out.

  • stirring

    Is there even enough yearly sunlight hours in London, let alone England to make the photovoltaics on the roof worth while? As even in the renderings it is sitting in the shade. Nice idea, not very well thought thru tho… Green bling anyone?

  • FBot

    Shouldn’t projects like this wait a little longer until they have an object that actually works and then submit to Dezeen? All can we all start sending in drawings of fantasies?

  • amsam

    The amount of energy a photovoltaic cell will generate in its lifetime is barely more than the amount of energy it takes to manufacture it. Consensus now is emerging that solar energy is really only useful for heating applications, as is being done successfully on large scales in China for ex. Barring some major breakthrough in solar cell technology, I fear this is just a very expensive bicycle.

  • illegal

    DARIUSZ – you dick..

    evolution is the word.
    (do you use razor to shave, or is it just too easy for ya so u use a sharp stone instead?)

  • peninsula

    Just because you stick photovoltaic cells on it doesn’t make it sustainable, this is an extremely inefficient application of technology. Why not power the bike with batteries charged from the grid and implement the cells where they can be of maximum use?

    Silly spurious design – reminds me of Homer Simpson’s attitude to inventors, ‘stick a clock on it’

  • on cloudy day, I bet none of this rickshaw can be seen around… who would want to use the pedal anyway…

  • Joaquin

    Ummm…i hate giving comments on rendering, but this looks like a photoshop crap. The gradient’s so fake and for any sake they can leave the sketchup look-alike driver out.

    The solution to all these: Don’t map it on the real scene. It posts too much contrast. Simple black or white bg would do.

  • Except for the additional PV cells, there’s nothing new to this. But I still support the initiative. Let’s look at the bright side of it:
    1. Velo-Rickshaws of this kind (highly visible, protective and light polycarbonate shell, electric engine to support pedaler) have already been successfully in operation since years, starting in Berlin and spreading worldwide (Beside being the first commercial rider in Switzerland, I saw them personally operating very successfully in Amsterdam, Barcelona, Kyoto, Sydney, Melbourne)
    2. Electric motor-supported riggshaws are necessary for them to adapt to the traffic flow. Having solar cells on the roof allows for a higher distance range of independence, and reduces the size and additional weight of batteries. For micro-distances in normal city traffic, this means of transport is not slower than normal cars and avoids car park hassles, pollution and noise. Moreover, they can often access places cars can’t.
    3. Densely populated cities provide an ideal opportunity for new, truly sustainable full-time or part-time jobs that provide enough money for a decent living, and are doing a lot for providing effective solutions to the greening of local communities and bringing a much needed smile into the society (personal approval!!!)
    4. Cloudy days are not a problem, just add an additional battery pack to keep service operating. And otherwise accept a bit slower speeds. Cold days are not a problem either. The driver will go faster to warm himself up.
    5. Bike drivers depend on a lot of high energy food. The environmental footprint of this will need to be included in the calculation of the most sustainable solution. But definitely, get those spinning sportspeople out of the fitness studios and on to a man-powered hybrid riggshaw!

  • very good appraoch as ricksawa is our main transport here in dhaka,
    i am delighted the its have universal appeal to transport and thanks them for the development.
    though we want to pull rickshawa from our road for their slow motion.

  • Alula

    How about developing a pedal-rechargable dynamo as is in cars. Imagine a rickshaw racing downhill as a result of its potential energy stored at the top end of the hill, i.e. E=m*g*h*sin¤
    Where g is the gravity making m*g the overall weight of the rickshaw(eg. Two passengers, the rider & the rickshaw itself)
    And ‘¤’ being the inclination angle of the the hill & ‘h’ is the difference in height from the top to the bottom of the hill.
    Newton’s third law tells us “ENERGY CAN NEVER BE CREATED NOR DESTROYED” i.e. Energy can be transferred from one form to another.
    Now let the figures & the theories fall in place.
    That potential energy at the top of the hill can be transferred into electrical energy at the bottom of the hill. The only loss of energy being to the friction between the tire & the asphalt which is so small. If this energy is harnessed the rider could be able to ride back up the hill with the same load almost as effortlessly as going down the hill.
    This is to compliment on the top of the solar-powered battery. If we look around us a bit more, we can find more ideas to harness energy.
    A thousand ideas start with one obviously so all credit to the researchers of the solar panelled rickshaw.

    Louie, A former rickshaw rider.

  • nice one .. check out the indian version of it

  • Fuel Consumption and Environmental Impact of Rickshaw Bans in Dhaka

    Most trips in Dhaka are short in distance, usually one to five kilometers. These trips are perfect of Rickshaws. Rickshaws are cheap and popular mode of transport over short distances. Rickshaws are safe, environmentally friendly and do not rely on fossil fuels. Rickshaws support a significant portion of the population, not only the pullers, but also their families in the villages, the mechanics who fix the rickshaws, as well as street hawkers who sell them food. From the raw materials to the finished product the Rickshaw employs some 38 different professions. Action needs to be taken to support the Rickshaw instead of further banning it in Dhaka. The combined profits of all Rickshaws out earn all other passenger transport modes (bus, rail, boats and airlines) combined. In Dhaka alone, Rickshaw pullers combine to earn 20 million taka a month.

    We think that over the coming holiday of Eid du Ajah, new Rickshaw bans will be put into action on roads in Dhaka. Eid was used in the past to place new bans on roads in Dhaka. Last Eid many roads were declared Rickshaw free without public support or approval. By banning Rickshaws roads are clogged with increased private car use as well as increased parking by cars. Banning of Rickshaws on major roads increases the transportation costs for commuters. Not only due to longer trips to avoid roads with bans in effect, but also due to actually having to take more expensive forms of transport such as CNG or Taxi, where in the past a Rickshaw would suffice. The environmental impact of banning Rickshaws is obvious because it exchanges a non-motorized form of transport for a motorized form of transport, thus increasing the pollution and harming the environment. Rickshaw bans harm the most vulnerable in society, mainly the sick, poor, women, children and the elderly; generally those who can not afford or do not feel comfortable on other forms of public transport. To ban Rickshaws also hurts small businesses that rely on them as a cheap and reliable form of transporting their goods. Rickshaws are ideal for urban settings because they can transport a relatively large number of passengers while taking up a small portion of the road. In 1998 the data showed that Rickshaws took up 38% of road space while transporting 54% of passengers in Dhaka . The private cars on the other hand, took up 34% of road space while only transporting 9% of the population (1998 DUTP). This data does not include the parking space on roads that cars take up in Dhaka . If included this would further raise the amount of space taken up by private cars. Every year the Rickshaw saves Bangladesh 100 billion taka in environmental damage.

    The government makes many efforts to reduce traffic congestion in Dhaka but with no success. Blaming Rickshaws for traffic congestion and subsequently banning them from major roads has not had the desired affect. Traffic is still as bad now as it was before the Rickshaws were banned on major roads. Rickshaws thus can not be seen as the major cause of traffic congestion. Instead one should look towards private cars and private car parking on roads as the major cause of traffic congestion. The space gained by banning Rickshaws is often used for private car parking. The current trend in transport planning reduces the mobility of the majority for the convenience of the minority. The next time a ban on Rickshaws on another road is discussed please take into consideration who is being hurt and who is being helped. For a better transport system in Dhaka we need to create a city wide network of Rickshaw lanes. If this is done Dhaka can reduce its fuel usage dramatically as well its pollution. We ask your help in our fight to keep Dhaka a Rickshaw city. Any information or help is very much appreciated and sought after. I write you this letter to describe the difficulties we are facing and some solutions but they are by no means exhaustive and we look forward to your help and input.

    Syed Saiful Alam
    Volunteer of Save Environment Movement

  • conrad

    reality of the problems facing people who
    opperate green forms of transport is that
    the taxi trade has been monopolized by petrol driven taxis which in actual fact
    create hundreds of thousands of tonnes of highly toxic fumes that are contributing to milions of premeture deaths around the planet so the sad fact is that monopoly or no monopoly petrol driven cars will really have to
    be banned
    from existence for human life is simply too precious
    this is the future

  • Suggestions for Improving Transport in Dhaka

    1. Maintain the use of rickshaws by
    a) Canceling all planned bans on rickshaws from different roads;
    b) Creating rickshaw-only lanes on major streets (including those that currently ban rickshaws), and
    c) Considering a gradual shift to improved rickshaws that are easier to maneuver and more comfortable for passengers. If the rickshaw licensing system is to be maintained, set a higher level for the number of rickshaws, and base it on research into which all citizens can have input.

    2. Cancel all plans for future flyovers, and use transportation budgets to improve public transit and conditions for NMT.

    3. Make cars less affordable and available through reducing import of cars, raising registration fees and taxes, and restricting licenses.

    4. Ban cars from small streets and lanes and from congested areas, and greatly reduce parking. Enforce a ban on parking on footpaths and on major streets.

    5. Make cycling more safe and attractive by providing separate bicycle lanes on all major roads (creating a continuous cycle lane throughout the city) and by giving bicycles priority at traffic signals so they aren






  • I am agree with Ali Askar to import this rickshaw not only for Bangladesh but also for India. I would like to request automobile companies of india to buy these rickshaws as it reduce co2 emissions in India.