Motorcycles and scooters rule the road in developing and third-world nations. For the most part, they are cheap, easy to operate and can navigate crowded conditions much easier than a full-size car. London-based designer Noppan Kewkanjai thinks there’s an alternative to those overburdened motorcycles and scooters, one that’s cheaper, safer and kinder to the environment.
Kewkanjai has introduced an electric trike he calls the EL-1, which he believes solves the main problems inherent with motorcycles and scoots in developing nations — and maybe a few more.
Kewkanjai’s says the electric engine in his trike is key to its development as a vehicle designed for developing nations. Electric engines are relatively cheap, provide clean transportation and, compared to gasoline engines, are inexpensive to operate and much more reliable. Since electricity is cheaper than gasoline in developing nations, the EL-1 makes good economic sense for a vast majority of people.
The other main element of Kewkanjai’s design is its safety. Kewkanjai claims that the three-wheel LM-1 will be much safer than a motorcycle or scooter. The electric trike features a large roof assembly that, aside from providing some shelter from the elements, also acts as a roll cage to protect the rider in case of a collision.
In addition to the roll cage, Kewkanjai has also included other crash protections such as a front crumple zone and, since the legs are inside the vehicle, an element of side protection.
Since motorcycles and scooters are often the primary means of transport for low income people in developing nations, Kewkanjai wanted to make sure his design performed its most important job — that of carrying lots of stuff — better than a two-wheeler. The LM-1 features two cargo zones. The first is a detachable luggage carrier at the back of the vehicle. The second cargo area is under the trike’s seat.
Aside from designated cargo areas the designer kept the LM-1 stripped down and clutter free, providing ample areas for items to be strapped down. Kewkanjai figures that if a rider can carry everything he or she needs to in a single trip, that lowers costs and, ultimately, may help increase the standard of living.
Kewkanjai’s objective designing the LM-1 was to minimize the number of components and reducing material usage. “The form,” he says, “is simplified to reduce the cost of moldings, which in turn lowers manufacturing cost.” And, the LM-1 is a ingeniously simple machine. The trike features a removable battery pack to aid ease of charging. The controls are extremely user friendly and, since there is a large windscreen, the trike provides considerably more comfort than a standard motorcycle or scooter.