Amphibious three-wheeler could keep flood-stricken Filipinos mobile

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The Salamander is designed to be at home on the road and the water

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If there are two things that the Philippines has a lot of, it's motorized trikes and small flood-prone villages. That's why Filipino startup H2O Technologies has developed the Salamander. It's a three-wheeler that can be driven on the road like a normal vehicle most of the time, but that can also take to the water when floods occur.

There are actually two versions of the vehicle – a gas/hydrogen model, and one that's fully electric.

The first version, called the HydrOPlus, has a 200-cc engine that runs on regular gasoline. Should hydrogen be available, however, it also has a fuel blending system that lets it run on a combination of gas and hydrogen. This should both cut down on emissions, and give it considerably better mileage.

The electric model is instead driven by a 3,000 W 48-volt motor, that is in turn powered by four 90-Ah gel-type batteries. There's no word on range or charging time, or on mileage for the gas version.

A maximum land speed of 80 km/h (50 mph) is possible in the HydrOPLus – the electric is a little slower – with both models managing 6 knots (11 km/h or 7 mph) on the water. Both versions can also carry six passengers on land (including the driver), and four when in boat mode.

The double-layered hull is constructed of high-density polyethylene, and is compartmentalized in order to help the vehicle stay afloat and stabilized if damaged. Propulsion in the water is achieved using a rear-mounted marine-grade propeller, that's run by the same motor that turns the wheels when on the road. Simply pulling a lever lets the driver switch between modes.

Although H2O would ultimately like to distribute Salamanders worldwide, the company is working towards selling them in barangays (villages) for now, and has launched a Kickstarter campaign to help finance that goal. The estimated price range is 295,000 to 495,000 Philippine pesos (about US$6,614 to $11,098).

To see the Salamander in action, check out the video below.

View gallery - 7 images

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