Thursday, 15 September 2011

E-rickshaws in the Netherlands

Project of the week: E-rickshaws in the Netherlands Project type: Electric transport Speed: 80 kilometers per battery charge, maximum 50 kilometers per hour Carbon reduction: around 9 tons each year and with each vehicle Project start: in use since March 2010 in the public transport system in the Netherlands Three wheels, an axle and a two-stroke engine – that's the classic rickshaw or tuk-tuk that crams the streets of Thailand, India and other Asian countries. The model dates back to the 1950s. Now, electric versions of the tuk-tuks are making an appearance on European roads. In Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague, the three-wheelers are already being used in local public transport. The vehicles, which are smaller than most cars, are able to easily nip in and out of traffic. A Dutch innovator first came up with the idea of importing the rickshaw to Europe. But he tweaked the concept with the aim of creating a cleaner and more silent version of the usually noisy and polluting rickshaw and to make it compliant with European roads. A research group was set up towards that purpose. The version they came up with is a truly global creature – its bodywork comes from Thailand, the engine from the US and the battery from Germany. The green three-wheeler is ideal for short rides in European cities. It's already being tested in a pilot project in Holland. The makers of the green three-wheeler have three models on offer – the "Classico" for up to three passengers, "Cargo" for delivery and the "Limo" that has room for up to six passengers with comforts not normally found on Asian equivalents. Prototypes of the green tuk-tuk are already plying the roads in some places in Belgium, Spain and Germany. Switzerland too is poised to unveil them. In Berlin, a few electric rickshaws are already out on the roads but they can only be hired so far. They aren't legally allowed as taxis because taxis usually need to have four wheels, four doors and two axles. But the makers of the electric rickshaw are hoping the authorities will make an exception.

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