Onion Mobility Co Ltd has reportedly sold “more than 500” units of its locally-assembled ONiON T1 electric rickshaw since pre-orders began late last year, a successful milestone in its ambitions to cut down pollution and reduce the costs of getting around in Cambodia, according to administration and human resources manager Met Sopha.
The three-wheelers are made at a factory located in the Suvannaphum Investment Special Economic Zone (SEZ) of Samrong Ka’er III village, Samrong Thom commune, Kien Svay district, Kandal province along National Road 1. The facility was officially launched on May 24, 2022 after a months-long period of trial production.
The $20 million assembly plant puts together 15 ONiON T1s on a typical day, although this is below maximum capacity, Sopha told The Post on September 7.
He said that customers have lauded the rickshaws as “high-quality”, and that they, along with the available battery swapping services, mean notably lower fuel costs than their petrol- or gas-powered counterparts.
The “spacious” ONiON T1 can travel as far as 120km on one charge, he said, adding that a battery swap costs about 10,000 riel ($2.50).
ONiON Mobility has built and commissioned 10 battery swap and charging stations in Phnom Penh and plans to set up at least one in each of Siem Reap, Preah Sihanouk and Battambang provinces, and potentially other strategically significant localities by end-2022 or the beginning of 2023, he revealed.
Sopha said the company also plans to produce electric motorcycles and other vehicles, and expects to distribute its products to neighbouring and regional countries, tapping into the global trend of alternative-fuel vehicle adoption.
Of note, the government is committed to increasing the share of electric vehicles (EV) in Cambodia to 40 per cent in cars and buses by 2050, and 70 per cent in motorcycles, in line with the Long-Term Strategy for Carbon Neutrality by 2050 and other initiatives, officials have said.
One ONiON T1 driver, Chak Sambor, says he switched from an LPG- (liquefied petroleum gas) powered “Indian-style” rickshaw about four months ago, sold on the lower fuelling costs and “acceptable” instalment payment plans, but he conceded that the number of charging stations is still very limited.
“Driving the electric rickshaw is much cheaper and the seats are bigger than those of the Indian ones. When I had an Indian-style rickshaw, and [gas] prices went up and there weren’t many passengers around, I’d have no money on hand and would be unable to make monthly payments [on the vehicle],” he said.
According to onionev.com, the ONiON T1 on average reduces fuelling costs by about 20 per cent compared to its LPG-powered counterparts. The rickshaw is powered by a 9kW electric motor and 7.5kWh lithium-ion battery, both of which have an IP67 waterproof rating, and can hit a top speed of 50km/h.
With a kerb weight of 375kg, the vehicle is 2,685mm long, 1,370mm wide and 1,700mm high, with 2,000mm wheelbase, 200mm ground clearance, 420mm seat legroom, and 2.98m turning radius, the website says.
Of note, ONiON Mobility’s South Korean-owned parent company MVLLABS Pte Ltd (MVL) is behind the TADA ride-hailing app, which has launched in Cambodia, Vietnam and Singapore, and is managed in the Kingdom by another subsidiary, MVL TADA (Cambodia) Co Ltd.
When TADA started operating in the Kingdom in January 2019, MVL said Vietnam and Malaysia would be its next regional ports of call. Despite launching in Vietnam just a few days later, no further plans to launch in Malaysia have been announced.