Visit almost any country in South or East Asia and you cannot miss the eardrum-blasting, smoke-puffing rickshaws — often recklessly driven around, violating some of the most common traffic laws. This is one of the cheaper means of public transport in this region, and an all-time favorite of budget-conscious commuters in Pakistan.
It looks a bit like a box fitted on a tricycle, a large windscreen placed above a single headlight that looks like it belongs on an early 1900’s Triumph motorcycle, some with flamboyant decorations called truck art. The cab’s capacity is for a driver and typically two passengers, three if they’re slim. But in Pakistan, it isn’t unusual to see five, maybe six in the back seat.
They’re an undeniably practical way to zip to your destination in a jiffy – even in bumper-to-bumper jams — if you can tolerate the noise. On Pakistani streets, we measured rickshaws producing more than 100 decibels — the same noise level produced by a jet taking off. Plus there’s the visible black smoke sputtering from the exhaust, and accompanying carbon emissions. But people need to get around, and the third world isn’t known for its environmentally friendly approach.
Now a Japanese company, Zar Motors, has devised what it calls a solution to the noise and pollution problem: the E-Trike, an electric-powered rickshaw. Zar will begin domestically assembling and selling the vehicles in Pakistan after successful introductions in Mexico, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Cambodia… see more