By on May 13, 2008

tuktuk.jpgRegular readers should know by now that Autoblog Green will say nice things about anything that it considers "green enough." But as chic as it may be at the moment, the "green at all costs" posture has its downsides, particularly when you end up saying that the demise of the Bajaj three-wheeler is "unfortunate." Then again, maybe there really is something to be said for third-world three wheelers, because now ABG is all thrilled about the prospect of another pedicab special, this time from Thai firm Tuk Tuk, hitting the US market. The Tuk Tuk is currently undergoing EPA and NHTSA testing to see if the mainstay of Bangkok's taxi industry is ready for U.S. sales. And yes, for those who must know, the two-stroke engine which gave the Tuk Tuk it's goofy name is staying in the developing world where it belongs, to be replaced for American duty by either a 200cc or 650cc liquid-cooled four-stroke. It will be offered in a variety of body styles, for passenger, cargo or truck duty. The three-wheeled oddity may even be offered with an LPG drivetrain, which is sure to have the eco-friendly ice cream vendors lined up around the block.

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21 Comments on “Tuk Tuk Three Wheeler Testing For American Market...”

  • avatar

    So essentially, a 3 wheeled ATV that’ll be street legal?

  • avatar

    Hmmm. I’ve driven lots of these tiny vehicles and find them very useful but like my bicycle I am very hesitant to use them in mixed traffic. Our big vehicles in the US are REALLY big.

  • avatar

    I am seeing recreations of Ong-Bak’s tuk tuk chase scene taking place across America. It’ll be wonderful.

  • avatar

    i don’t see how 3 wheels makes anything more green. doesn’t it just make it cheaper and less safe?

  • avatar

    Shoot, put a nice big V-8 in there and I’ll take one!

  • avatar

    I’m all for them. They are “green” only in the sense that they use less gas than most cars. These things will do better than a Prius for gas mileage.

    They are of course only suitable as local commuter vehicles, but there are plenty of people who don’t have to commute long distances.

    I seriously considered a Bajaj 3 wheel PU. That could have been my commuter/errand vehicle and we’d still have the CRV for my wife, and for trips out of town. In the end, I decided a restored Raleigh 3 speed is just fine for a 6 mile commute.

    All in all, I like the Vespa Ape TM better than the Bajaj. When one lives in Michigan, there is something to be said for doors. Alas, the Ape isn’t for sale on this side of the pond. (actually I think it is available in Canada – they get all the good stuff)

    I think Americans better get used to a wide array of very different vehicles on the surface streets. As gas goes up more people will realize that 2500 pounds of metal/glass/plastic/etc. and 4 cylinders really isn’t necessary much of the time.

  • avatar

    Force = Mass X Acceleration. So if you svae the Mass you maybe able to save some fuel.
    Perhaps give Mr. Bush another term to take Baghdad Ol in the Spring, our only opton left is to lighter weght on the vehicles.
    Should high ol persist , any big cars can only be sen n Museum, videos etc. Or some special occason.

  • avatar

    I’ve never understood why three-wheelers are allowed on public roads. The Reliant Robin was never imported here, and it only sold in England (where it was and is hated) because it exploited a loophole allowing it to be driven on a cheap motorcycle license instead of a full automobile license.

    I chuckle when I see our local Parking Nazis trolling for expired meters in their three-wheeled “Interceptor” Pushmans. I’m not sure what you’d expect to ‘Intercept’ in a motorized wheelbarrow that can’t go around a corner at more than 11 miles an hour.

    I’m sure someone will remind me of Buckminster Fuller’s three-wheeled Dymaxion Car, but if I remember correctly it was never manufactured because it was plagued by braking and stability problems that make the Firestone-equipped Ford Explorers seem safer than houses by comparison.

  • avatar

    Next up after the tuk tuk’s — “moto taxis”.

    Yes, motorcycle taxis. They exist in the northeast of brazil. YOu borrow a heavily used helmet and hold on for dear life as your driver shoots around/through traffic on his 125cc.

  • avatar

    I’ve ridden on tuk-tuks in Bangkok. They’re fun if you don’t mind the eye-watering fumes of a low-displacement two-stroke engine that revs at, oh about 10 RPM.

    That problem could be solved by switching out the two-stroke with a modern four. But how would a passenger vehicle with tin can construction ever meet federal collision regs?

  • avatar

    If I ever get stuck behind one of these while riding my motorcycle, I’ll know the end is nigh.

  • avatar

    Rode on them in Bangkok. It’s fun in that climate (hot and humid). However, since we don’t even allow three-wheeled ATVs in the US, will the tuk-tuks be converted to four wheels?

    Edward, minor nitpick: s/gave the Tuk Tuk it’s goofy name/gave the Tuk Tuk its goofy name/

  • avatar

    Hell, just stick a back seat into a Rhino or one of the ever-enlargening utility atv’s and call it done.

  • avatar

    “I’ve never understood why three-wheelers are allowed on public roads.”

    A quirk of law regulates them as motorcycles, not cars. Hence why so many marginal vehicles have three wheels. In a rational world if we are going to have loose regulations for small passenger vehicles we should have a class like the Japanese Kei car class.

    At least then we would have relatively safe light cars instead of the three wheeled death traps. Three wheel vehicles have significant stability disadvantages compared to four wheel ones. Even ATVs have almost all gone from three to four wheels to reduce accidents.

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    Not sure if anyone has ever been, but there is a restaurant called Tuk Tuk Thai in Berkeley, CA. Great curry. They have a real tuk tuk in the middle of the restaurant (not running while eating, fortunately).

  • avatar
    Dangerous Dave

    Just a quick note jthorner, manufacturing 3 wheel ATV’s was banned years ago for safety reasons. The only 3 wheelers around today are 20 years old.

  • avatar

    I’ve never understood why three-wheelers are allowed on public roads.

    Most everything is allowed on public roads – except limited access highways. I can drive a donky and cart on public roads if I want to.

  • avatar

    I see a major problem with this thing – North American weather is different than Thailand’s.

    Imagine trying to drive a three wheeled wheelbarrow through Maine snow, Seattle rain, Florida wind, or Louisiana water. Outside of the desert states, and maybe a few others, these things will forever be seasonal tourist attractions.

  • avatar

    Isn’t it “cute” to name a vehicle after the sound it makes?

    According to my Newfoundland dog, General Motors should change their name to Squeek Squeek Rattle Stench. While sitting with her on the grass near the entrance to a parking lot at a mall (waiting on Mrs. who’d gone shopping) a couple of summers ago, my Newfie kept on “glaring” and “starting”.

    So being a car guy, I started to take note of what she was doing, and what cars alarmed her.

    They were all General Motors products. Every one. And I mean, virtually every GM product which slowed down to go into the parking lot, she’d glare at.

    I started laughing. She was merely more confused.

    Now, a Newfoundland dog doesn’t go by visuals. She didn’t glare more at a Pontiac Aztek than Corvette. She glared at them both. Their dog brains fundamentally go with smells and sounds. Not forgetting food and affection, too. (Not necessarily in that order!)

  • avatar

    WOW do opinions really count when they have no knowledge about the comment left.
    The Tuk Tuk for everyones information is:
    Almost as big as a Ford Ranger Truck
    Able to reach traffic speeds with the traffic
    Equal in tow and load capacity of a 1/2 ton truck
    Able to turn corners at normal speeds
    Is not a ATC or handle like the ATC
    Lowered center of gravity, tires are DOT approved, handles like your car.
    Really more could be said but why, uneducated opinions are un-educated at this time due to never seeing, or drivng any such vehicle like this. Well lets ask James Bond what he thinks or Citibank since they have and are being used in several advertising promos and James really knows how to drive one.
    Now lets just get to business about giving something new a chance. You will see the Tuk Tuk fit into our way of life as easy as a grilled cheese burger. !!!!!
    Or would you rather experiance traffic delays and congestion with your non- fuel efficient tank being slowed down by golf carts in the way. Just something to think about.?????

  • avatar

    Having driven three-wheelers (Piaggio Ape) up to 40 mph – no thanks. I prefer my wheels to come in multiples of twos. If they want to sell a TukTuk here then sell it with four wheels. Not much difference in weight if done right. Piaggio eventually started offering four wheelers and I drove them several times. MUCH nicer handling and the weight did not increase too much.

    Downside: worse ride b/c now there were four wheels finding bumps instead of three.

    Believe me – those Apes (say ah-pey) were tippy as heck and a friend got hurt after rolling one at 20+ mph. I had several two wheeled moments myself.

    I’m all for tiny transport where appropriate! We need to get off the Arab oil teat!

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