I ain’t gonna lie — I think tuk-tuks are pretty damn cute. Of course, the conventional ones are some polluting little dudes. But more electric tuk-tuks are popping onto the scene, which should help to clean up the interesting cities where they are used (and also save the drivers tons of money).
Tokyo-based Terra Motors recently announced that it would be introducing a new electric tuk-tuk into large portions of the Asian market. From what is actually the startup’s first press release (a pretty skimpy one), the company writes: “Terra Motors will mass produce battery operated tuk tuk for the South East Asian and South Asian market this year.” But the best part of the two- to three-sentence press release (three if you count the image credit), is this photo of the beautiful electric tuk-tuk (aka e-Tricycle) Terra Motors is offering:
The three-wheeler comes with a lithium-ion battery, is just under 11 feet in length, and does really steer using handlebars.
Reportedly, the range is 31 miles on 2 hours of charge.
While the company is just entering the market, the market is apparently wide open for domination, and Terra Motors hopes to take command of it. “There is no single company in Asia that mass-produces electric bikes or tricycles,” president Toru Tokushige said.
The Philippines is a big initial target market for the company, with a big boost from the Asian Development Bank. “The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is providing $300 million towards a groundbreaking project that will replace 100,000 gasoline-burning tricycles in the Philippines with clean, energy efficient electric tricycles, or E-Trikes,” the bank wrote in a press release of its own.
The Philippines currently has about 3.5 million tuk-tuks on the roads. If those could be changed over to cleaner, cheaper e-Tricycles, the quality of life of residents, tuk-tuk drivers, and even visitors could be improved tremendously.
ADB writes that the average tuk-tuk driver in the Philippines makes less than $10 a day, and that the e-Tricycle would save them $5 a day in fuel costs. Plus, e-Tricycles can carry more passengers. I have a feeling the upgrade would pay for itself pretty quickly. “E-Trike drivers saw their daily incomes more than double during a pilot program in Metro Manila,” ADB writes.
The problem might be the initial cost of purchasing an e-Tricycle, but that has been well considered, of course.
“The new E-Trikes, which run on an electric motor and rechargeable lithium-ion battery, will be introduced to Metro Manila and other urban centers across the Philippines under a lease-to-own arrangement. Replacing 100,000 gasoline-powered trikes will enable the Philippine government to save more than $100 million a year in avoided fuel imports, while decreasing annual CO2 emissions by about 260,000 tons.”
“This project will lessen the Philippines’ dependence on foreign oil imports, and by fabricating and assembling the tricycles domestically, it will create up to 10,000 jobs in the 5-year project implementation,” said Loreta G. Ayson, Undersecretary at the Depart of Energy.
Of course, as a pioneer, the government is looking to get something more out of it. The Philippines government wants to become a key electric vehicle (EV) industry — EV parts, the battery supply chain, and charging stations (including solar-powered EV charging stations).