Terra Motors launches electric tuk-tuk for Philippines

"E-trikes" are part of a movement to cut CO2 emissions and fuel costs in Asian cities. Manila wants 100,000 by 2016.

Terra Motors' e-tricycle can carry six and travel 31 miles per charge. Terra Motors

Tuk-tuks are a common way to get around in many Asian cities, but they contribute to urban pollution and high fuel costs.

Tokyo-based startup Terra Motors wants to put more non-polluting vehicles on the streets with an electric tuk-tuk unveiled this week for the Philippines.

The blue and white "e-tricycle" is powered by a lithium-ion battery and can carry six people including the driver. It's just under 11 feet long and is steered with handlebars.

It can travel some 31 miles per 2-hour charge, according to the firm, which is hoping to become the world's top electric tuk-tuk maker.

"There is no single company in Asia that mass-produces electric bikes or tricycles," president Toru Tokushige was quoted as saying by AFP.

"I think it could have a big impact if a Japanese company is the pioneer in the market with products of such a futuristic design."

The tuk-tuks will go on sale in fall 2013 for about $6,300 apiece.

Terra Motors is gunning for a Philippine government plan, funded by a $300 million Asian Development Bank loan, to replace 100,000 gas-powered tricycle taxis with "e-trikes" by 2016.

The average tuk-tuk driver in the Philippines earns less than $10 a day, but e-trikes will save him $5 a day in fuel costs, according to the bank. The trikes will be introduced to Manila and other cities under a lease-to-own system.

"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," the bank said in a release.

Asian Development Bank e-trikes ply the streets of Manila. Asian Development Bank

 

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