Call them tuk tuks, auto rickshaws, mototaxis or any one of several other names, but they’re one of the world’s most ubiquitous vehicles – three-wheeled motorized rickshaws. They’ve been a fixture on roads in Asia, South America, Africa and Italy for decades, and have more recently made their way into the Netherlands, the U.K. and other countries. Given that they typically have quite small engines and are used mostly as runabouts, Dutch company Tuk Tuk Factory (TTF) decided to start making electric tuk tuks a few years ago and has now introduced them to the European market.
TTF couldn’t sell gasoline tuk tuks direct from manufacturers in Asia, as the vehicles reportedly didn’t meet European environmental, quality or safety requirements. While some of the other brands of tuk tuks currently operating in Europe have been retrofitted with compressed natural gas engines, TTF decided to have their vehicles built from scratch.
“We took the biggest battery we could possibly imagine as a starting point, and then designed the vehicle around that battery,” said chief designer Dennis Harte. “A 15kWh lead acid battery drives the silent and maintenance free AC motor. The chassis has been designed to carry the 400 kilos (882 lbs) of the humongous battery.”
According to the company, the vehicles’ “humongous batteries” should see them through 70 to 80 kilometers (43.5 to 50 miles) of average city use on one charge.
If the three new Europe-wide models are anything like those that TTF already sells in The Netherlands, the charge time is 10 to 12 hours, although an optional quicker-charging Lithium battery is also available. The three-seat and cargo models are powered by a 72V motor for a top speed of 50 km/h (31 mph), while the stretched 6-seater "limotuck" tops out at 35 km/h (22 mph).
The electric tuk tuks are expected to sell for €11,000 to €14,000 (US$15,110 to $19,231), and will require a Class B driver’s license.