This one style of vehicle is known by many names. In India, it’s an auto rickshaw. In Thailand, a tuk-tuk (a fun onomatopoeia that arose from the traditionally loud two-stroke engines powering them). But whatever it’s called, these three-wheeled taxis have used their half-bike, half-wagon design to shuttle folks around cities for decades. And now, a new era of rickshaws is seeing electric drives enabling interesting new designs.
Take for instance this yellow behemoth of a bike I found while perusing Alibaba. It may just be one of my favorite Awesomely Weird Alibaba Electric Vehicle of the Week entries in a while based on just how useful it looks!
Got some kids you need to shuttle down the neighborhood to a friend’s house? Throw ’em in!
Have some grocery shopping to do? Strap those eggs into the backseat!
Does Granny need a ride to the doctor? Toss that lady in back and drive Miss Daisy to the orthopedist!
With your own electric rickshaw, you can become the open-air, eco-friendly neighborhood cab driver you’ve always dreamed of!
Behold the features such as the “stylish and exquisite exterior styling,” the “fully-functional turn signals and headlights,” and the “spacious front and rear seats for up to six people at a time.”
I’m not quite sure how you cram six people into this little thing, unless you’ve got a clown car situation or part of the rear suspension becomes the lap of your riding companion. But hey, the more merrier!
For power, we’ve got a rear axle-mounted 1,000W motor supplied by a 48V battery. It’s not clear how big the battery is, but the vendor claims a range of 70-90 km (43-55 miles), which I think is larger than any neighborhood operator could need.
At a top speed of around 35 km/h (22 mph), you’re not going to be taking this on any major roads. And even if you could, I’m not sure you’d want to go much faster in a tricycle. Three-wheelers are fun, but they do have a nasty habit of turning into two-wheelers in the turns, if you catch my drift.
And if you get going too fast into a hairpin, you’d better have someone on hand to catch your own drift.
One of the things I Iike about this design, other than the fun and bubbly shell, is that the large-diameter bike-style wheels will likely help with rougher terrain. These vehicles sometimes skimp on the suspension, and so larger wheels can help reduce the impact of bumps and dips in the road surface. It’s not going to be an off-roader, but I think that sounds like a bad enough idea that no one was planning on hitting up their local ATV trails anyway.
My favorite part of this vehicle is just how cheap it is – a mere $592! Though there are a couple of catches. First, that’s likely the price without batteries. Second, and more importantly, that’s the price when buying 100 units, which is the minimum order quantity of the Chinese factory that makes this lovable little runabout. However, if you’re prepared to buy just over half a billion units, they’ll drop the price down to $400 per unit. I’m not kidding.
I guess I won’t be riding around in my own silly yellow e-bike tuk-tuk anytime soon, at least not unless I can find 99 friends who also want to join in on the fun. I’ve got my hands full with a few containers of Chinese EVs as it is. But just imagine the sight of pulling into your neighborhood one day and seeing a parade of 100 bubble trikes rolling past in all of their bright yellow glory. Now that’s a world I want to live in!