This Is Not Your Father’s EV Tuk Tuk

In their classic form, tuk tuks — the three-wheeled, motorized rickshaws you see so frequently in Southeast Asia — are an environmental disaster, burning cheap, dirty fuels with two-stroke engines and spewing pollution on crowded streets. But there’s been an effort to clean up the vehicles in recent years, and now a Dutch company is bringing a bit of the flavor of Bankgok and Jakarta to Europe with a fully electric tuk tuk.

Tuk Tuk Factory, out of Diemen, Netherlands, explained in a press release that the typical gas-powered tuk tuk wouldn’t meet EU environmental, quality and safety requirements. So they had to do some heavy-duty reengineering.

image via Tuk Tuk Factory

“We took the biggest battery we could possibly imagine as a starting point, and then designed the vehicle around that battery,” Chief Engineer Dennis Harte said. “A 15 kilowatt hour (kWh) lead acid battery drives the silent and maintenance free AC motor. The chassis has been designed to carry the 400 kilos (880 lbs.) of the humongous battery.”

The company is making three versions of the vehicle — a 3-seater, a 6-seater and a cargo version — that it said will be available throughout the EU countries, at prices ranging from 11,000 to 14,000 Euros ($15,300 to $19500). With a range of 70 to 80 kilometers (43 to 50 miles), it has an advantage over shorter-range standard electric vehicles, Tuk Tuk Factory said.

Despite that, the company is leaning on the quirky, fun nature of the vehicle to market it to Europeans it for, well, it’s marketing appeal: “The vehicle will save a lot of fuel cost per kilomter, but add revenue through the advertising potential.”

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Sports columnist, newspaper desk guy, website managing editor, wine-industry PR specialist, freelance writer—Pete Danko’s career in media has covered a lot of terrain. The constant along the way has been a fierce dedication to knowing the story and getting it right. Danko's work has appeared in Wired, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.