Terra Motors hopes to clean up in Southeast Asia with new electric tuk-tuk


April 2, 2013

Terra Motors' electric tuk-tuk aimed at markets in Southeast Asia

Terra Motors' electric tuk-tuk aimed at markets in Southeast Asia

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Auto rickshaws, also known as tuk-tuks, three-wheelers or by numerous other names, are a common sight on the streets of many Asian cities. An evolution of the traditional pulled or cycle rickshaw, the gasoline-powered vehicles, which are used as taxis, are a major source of pollution in many Asian cities. Japan’s Terra Motors hopes to capitalize on efforts to cut tuk-tuk pollution with its new electric three-wheeler aimed at emerging Southeast Asia markets.

Although they are generally powered by high polluting two-stroke engines, a number of governments in Southeast Asia are forcing changes in an effort to improve the air quality in major cities. Some are forcing a switch to CNG or LPG fuel, while others are banning two-stroke engines in favor of four-stroke engines. The Philippines government is embracing locally emission-free electric powered tuk-tuks, with plans to introduce some 100,000 such vehicles by 2016.

Terra Motors is aiming for a slice of this pie with its electric three-wheeler, alongside the wider goal of becoming the world’s biggest seller of electric tuk-tuks within the next two years. Likely strengthening the company’s bid, Terra Motors will produce the vehicles in the Philippines.

Measuring 3.3 m (10.8 ft) long and 1.47 m (4.8 ft) wide, the vehicle has room for five passengers in seats facing each other located behind the driver. A two-hour charge of the swappable lithium ion battery pack is good for a range of around 50 km (31 miles), with the vehicle capable of a top speed of 50 km/h (31 mph).

Since the “tuk-tuk” moniker is derived from the noise the traditional two-stroke engined vehicles make, the switch to almost silent electric power could see them requiring a new name.

Terra Motors plans to sell its EV Tricycle Taxi from later this year for around US$6,300.

Sources: Terra Motors, Global Times, NHK World

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag. All articles by Darren Quick

with swappable battery packs it might be a a boon to saving's over the long run.Electrics save money

Thomas Lewis

It would be nice if the U.S. had the little tuk-tuk vehicles for just running around town in.

Sonya Jones

I'm making my EV trike into one of these except slightly smaller 3 person with cargo room still.

Golf cart transaxles, especially the larger size ones used in the 6-10 passenger or NEV's work great. Then just get a dead MC with a good front end, title then cut and weld and very low cost transport.

Increase spends by using large dia wheels, 12v batteries instead of 6 vdc , field weakening, etc.


From tuk-tuk to hush-hush as you whisper along the highway!

Michael Halpin

Sonya, It's been done. And many other hits for google search Neighborhood Electric Vehicle

Penny pinching 3rd world economy, how about retrofit I.E... R E T R O F I T as I said RETROFIT. Their was a program for retrofitting Direct Injection to the existing two stroke motors of tuk-tuks, for better economy and lower polution. They are retrofitting small delivery vans in europe as electric vehicles.

Why not a program for refurbishment & electric conversion for tuk-tuks, ,call them Kut-Kuts. BTW - they still need a way to recharge them, are those facilities in place?

Dave B13

$6300 is way too expensive for Asian consumers. The design looks good, but an electric vehicle is a good fit for commuters that go to work at morning and back to home at evening; and they have enough time to recharge the batteries. Cabs like Tuk-Tuk are out for work like 25 hours a day! and carrying those heavy batteries is not a good idea. May be a substitution of low pollution 4-stroke engine with direct injection (as Dave said) is a better choice.

Esi 1976

It is not a Law of Nature that 2-stroke engines have to be dirtier than 4-stroke engines. It is a Law of Nature that batteries are an expensive energy storage medium. Pneumatic propulsion is also zero local emission, cheaper, faster charging, and does not loose storage capacity with use. Blowing the cool exhaust air over the passengers would be pleasant in the Philippines and other hot climates as well. Too bad lawmakers went with the battery lobby.


re; Thomas Lewis

The range difference generated by the maintenance/abuse of batteries makes swapping batteries like propane tanks a bad idea. Not only does the owner have to buy extra expensive batteries the cab has to go back to the dispatch yard more often reducing the time available to earn the money to pay for the extra expense of an electric vehicle. Of course you could bring batteries to the Tuk-Tuk but that involves another vehicle and more people on the payroll.

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