Swedish home furnishing brand IKEA has just opened its first Indian store in the southern city of Hyderabad. However, instead of only using standard transit vans for home deliveries, the company has deployed hundreds of colorful electric rickshaws, making up 20% of the store's delivery fleet.
The battery-powered, three-wheeled vehicles are designed to be charged by 4,000 solar panels installed on the roof of the new 400,000 square-foot IKEA store. This makes them far less polluting than other common rickshaws that run on fossil fuels, and IKEA even plans to provide electric vehicle (EV) charging for all customers and employees in the future. Any excess electricity will be used to power lighting and other devices inside the store. “At IKEA, the people, the community and our contribution to the planet is the biggest priority,” said IKEA India manager Peter Betzel.
Each of the branded rickshaws have been painted with IKEA's signature blue and yellow colors and feature an eclectic mix of patterned canopies and cushions. Although their small size isn’t exactly ideal for delivering larger pieces of furniture, their narrow dimensions allows them to nip through the city’s notoriously chaotic traffic and narrow streets.
Since its opening last week (August 9th, 2018), thousands of excited customers flocked to the Hyderabad store, causing bumper-to-bumper traffic in all directions. Scenes were just as chaotic inside the store, with many social media videos showing excited shoppers battling through the crowds. However, furniture fans will soon have multiple stores to choose from as IKEA reportedly plans to open 25 shops in India by 2025.