Tuk-tuks are the three-wheeled passenger vehicles commonly used in Asia, and they're often noisy and most-certainly-not-emissions-free. To counter the current state, Japanese start-up company Terra Motors has launched an electric tuk-tuk and thinks its electric tricycle will be a cost competitive taxi in Asia.
The company plans to build the car in the Philippines and start selling it later this year for about $6,300. It can go about 31 miles on a two-hour charge, which could propose a bit of a limitation for all-day taxi use. This three-wheeler ties into a national program in the Philippines to replace 100,000 gas-powered tuk-tuks with more efficient, cost-effective EVs by 2016.
Drivers can acquire the Terra tuk-tuk on a lease-to-own basis. The idea is to save drivers money by offering lower fuel costs while reducing air pollution in densely populated urban areas. The challenge is that drivers can buy a gas-powered tuk-tuk for somewhere between $1,000 and $1,500, and those don't have a 31-mile range limitation. Still, plans call for the company to expand the business to the broader Asian market while continuing to work on hitting the right price point, according to Terra Motors director of business development Tetsuya Ohashi.
Terra Motors is counting on consumers enjoying the space-age design and ample interior seating. Investors such as former top executives at Apple Japan, Google Japan, Sony and Compaq have been impressed by Terra's plans, despite a small number of Chinese companies also marketing electric tuk-tuks. Of all the e-tuk-tuk builders, Terra is considered the most ambitious and you can see a TV news report on the company's six-seat taxi video below.