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Auto rickshaw

An auto rickshaw, also known as a three-wheeler, samosa, tempo, tuk-tuk, trishaw, autorick, bajaj (in India and Indonesia), bajaji (in Madagascar and Tanzania), keke Napep or Maruwa (in Nigeria), rick, tricycle, mototaxi, baby taxi, lapa or tukxi (Piaggio Ape Calessino) in popular parlance, is a motorized development of the traditional pulled rickshaw or cycle rickshaw.

Most have three wheels and do not tilt. An exception is in Cambodia, where two different types of vehicles are called tuk-tuks, one of which (also known as a remorque) has four wheels and comprises a motorcycle (which leans) and trailer (which does not).

The auto rickshaw is a common form of urban transport, both as a vehicle for hire and for private use, in many countries around the world, especially those with tropical or subtropical climates, including many developing countries.


  • Overview 1
    • Origin 1.1
    • Design 1.2
    • Engines 1.3
  • Medium of advertisement 2
  • Regional variations 3
    • Africa and the Middle East 3.1
      • African Great Lakes 3.1.1
      • Egypt 3.1.2
      • Gaza 3.1.3
      • Madagascar 3.1.4
      • Nigeria 3.1.5
      • Somalia 3.1.6
      • South Africa 3.1.7
      • Sudan 3.1.8
      • Tanzania 3.1.9
    • Asia 3.2
      • Bangladesh 3.2.1
      • Cambodia 3.2.2
      • China 3.2.3
      • India 3.2.4
        • Overview
        • Design and manufacture
        • Legislation
      • Indonesia 3.2.5
      • Laos 3.2.6
      • Nepal 3.2.7
      • Pakistan 3.2.8
      • Philippines 3.2.9
      • Sri Lanka 3.2.10
      • Thailand 3.2.11
      • Vietnam 3.2.12
    • Europe 3.3
      • France 3.3.1
      • Italy 3.3.2
      • Turkey 3.3.3
      • Netherlands 3.3.4
      • Portugal 3.3.5
      • United Kingdom 3.3.6
    • Central America 3.4
      • El Salvador 3.4.1
      • Guatemala 3.4.2
      • Honduras 3.4.3
      • Nicaragua 3.4.4
    • Caribbean 3.5
      • Cuba 3.5.1
    • South America 3.6
      • Ecuador 3.6.1
      • Peru 3.6.2
    • North America 3.7
      • United States 3.7.1
  • Fuel efficiency and pollution 4
  • Traffic issues 5
  • Racing 6
  • Portrayal in media 7
  • See also 8
  • Notes 9
  • References 10
  • External links 11


Daihatsu Midget Model DKA


In 1947, Corradino D'Ascanio, aircraft designer at Piaggio and inventor of the Vespa, came up with the idea of building a light three-wheeled commercial vehicle to power Italy's post-war economic reconstruction. The Piaggio Ape followed suit.

Auto rickshaws in Southeast Asia started from the knockdown production of the Daihatsu Midget which was introduced in 1957.

Japan exported three-wheelers to Thailand since 1934. Moreover, The Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications of Japan donated about 20,000 used three-wheelers to Southeast Asia.[1][2][3][4] In Japan, three-wheelers went out of use in the latter half of the 1960s.[5]


There are many different auto rickshaw types, designs, and variations. The most common type is characterized by a sheet-metal body or open frame resting on three wheels, a canvas roof with drop-down side curtains, a small cabin at the front for the driver (sometimes known as an auto-wallah) with handlebar controls, and a cargo, passenger, or dual purpose space at the rear.


Daihatsu E-series engines are common in newer models.

Medium of advertisement

Auto rickshaws were first used as a medium of advertising in 2001. India's consumer review website pioneered the concept of painting their logos on the backs of the hood of these auto rickshaws [6] India's leading newspaper DNA reports the story of how CEO Faisal Farooqui convinced auto rickshaw drivers to let him paint behind their rickshaws.[7] Auto rickshaw advertising is a cost-effective advertisement for websites, and an extra source of income for auto rickshaw drivers.

Regional variations

Africa and the Middle East

African Great Lakes

Tuk-tuk, Nairobi

There are tuk-tuks in several Kenyan towns. Using them is somewhat cheaper than ordinary taxis. However, tuk-tuks cannot operate in mountainous towns, which are common in Kenya. Fierce competition with boda-bodas (bicycle taxis) and matatus (minibuses) hinders popularity of tuk-tuks, especially in the interior of Kenya. While they may not be widely found in Kenya, they are numerous in the coastal regions, which are less mountainous. For example, in the town of Malindi they offer an economical and convenient mode of transportation.

Tuk-tuks are also common in Ethiopia and are becoming common in Tanzania, particularly in the outer areas of Dar es Salaam.


In Egypt, auto rickshaws are called toktok (Egyptian Arabic: توك توك  pronounced , plural: تكاتك takātek ); they are widely used as taxis in poorer neighborhoods of the capital, and have become a popular symbol for lower class Egyptians, although they are banned from the streets of wealthier neighborhoods. Deposed president Mohamed Morsi (June 2012-July 2013) in his opening speech addressed the tuk-tuk (toktok) drivers as a symbol of the lower class population. His political rivals and the media considered it deceptive given its incipient promise to legalize the status of tuk-tuks.


Together with the recent boom of recreational facilities in Gaza for the local residents, donkey carts have all but been displaced by tuk-tuks in 2010. Due to the ban by Israel on the import of most motorised vehicles, the tuk-tuks have had to be smuggled in parts through the tunnel network connecting Gaza with Egypt.[8]


In Madagascar, man-powered rickshaws are a common form of transportation in a number of cities, especially Antsirabe. They are known as "posy" from pousse-pousse, meaning push-push. Cycle rickshaws never took off, yet posy are threatened by the auto rickshaws, introduced in 2009. Provincial capitals like Toamasina, Mahajanga, Toliara, and Antsiranana are taking to them rapidly. They are known as "bajaji" and are now licensed to operate as taxis. They are not yet allowed an operating licence in the congested, and more polluted national capital, Antananarivo.[9][10][11]


There are keke-marwas in several Nigerian towns and cities. Although not as popular as the ubiquitous okada in Nigeria, keke-marwa's are embraced as an alternative means of transport by the middle and lower-class citizens. Keke-marwas are named after Lagos former military governor, Buba Marwa, in the late 1990s.


In Somalia, auto rickshaws are a common type of public transportation. They are the second most frequently used public vehicles in Mogadishu. Known as bajaj, they number around 3,000 units and come in various designs. The auto rickshaws represent a lower cost alternative to taxis and minibuses, typically charging half the price for the same distance, with flexible rates. Due to their affordability, capacity to negotiate narrow lanes and low fuel consumption, the three-wheeled vehicles are often appealing investment opportunities for small-scale entrepreneurs. They are generally preferred for shorter commutes.[12]

South Africa

Tuk-tuks, introduced in Durban[13] in the late 1980s enjoyed growing popularity in recent years, particularly in Gauteng.[14]


Rickshaws, locally known as "raksha", are a major means of transport in all parts of Sudan.


Rickshaws are locally known as "bajaji" and are a common mode of transportation in Dar es Salaam.[15]



"CNGs" in Dhaka.

Auto rickshaws (locally called "baby taxis" and more recently "CNGs" due to their fuel source) are one of the more popular modes of transport in Bangladesh mainly due to their size and speed. They are best suited to narrow, crowded streets, and are thus the principal means of covering longer distances within urban areas.[16]

Earlier, auto rickshaws were colored black with a yellow canvas topping and ran on gasoline without any meter system. However, due to the vast supplies of natural gas in Bangladesh, the government has since encouraged the development of four-stroke compressed natural gas (CNG)-powered engines rather than the older two-stroke petrol models. Two-stroke engines had been identified as one of the leading sources of air pollution in Dhaka. Thus, since January 2003, traditional auto rickshaws were banned from the capital; only the new CNG-powered models were permitted to operate within the city limits. The newly manufactured CNG auto rickshaws are more fuel-efficient and have a lower center of gravity, making them safer than older models. All CNGs are painted green to signify that the vehicles are eco-friendly and that each one has a meter built-in.[17]

Another version of the auto rickshaw can be seen in rural areas of Bangladesh, where they are called "helicopters". "Helicopters" are auto rickshaws modified to have a large body with which it can carry more than six or seven passengers.

At the end of the 1980s, a local company Atlas designed and built a new version of the auto rickshaw, called mishuk, a name derived from a children's mascot of a local deer. Unlike baby taxis, mishuks have spoke wheels and a green body, and have no meter system. Mishuks have more space than baby taxis or CNGs, which makes them more popular with women. They are commonly found in Dhaka and elsewhere in the country due to its four-stroke engine, which is not listed as a significant source of air pollution.


Tuk-tuk, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

In Cambodia, the terms tuk-tuk (Khmer: ទុកទុក) and remorque are used. Cambodian cities have much lower automobile traffic volumes than Thai cities, and tuk-tuks are still the most common form of urban transport. There are more than 6,000 tuk-tuks in Phnom Penh, according to the Independence Democratic of Informal Economic Association (IDEA), a union that represents tuk-tuk drivers among other members.[18]

Cambodia’s tourism minister has questioned the term 'tuk-tuk,’ saying it doesn’t belong in the Khmer dictionary,[18] noting that it comes from Thailand, and suggested the French term 'remorque' is more suitable.

In Siem Reap and at the temple complex of Angkor, passenger tuk-tuks are generally the remorque type, comprising a motorcycle and articulated passenger trailer. The trailers are usually brakeless. Remorques are a popular form of transport for tourists, and can be hired, together with the driver, who may also offer his services as a guide, by the day. Remorques are also common in Sihanoukville.

Phnom Penh tuk-tuks are generally one piece, with a front end like or taken from a motorcycle and consisting of steering, fuel tank, and engine and gearbox. Power is transferred by chain to the rear axle which drives the two rear wheels. At the rear is an open cabin with an in-line seat on each side. Some can carry six people with ease, with additional cargo in the leg space. It is not unusual to see these vehicles greatly overloaded, especially around markets.


Various types of auto rickshaw are used around China, where they are called sān lún chē (三轮车) and sometimes sān bèng zǐ (三蹦子), meaning three wheeler or tricycle. They may be used to transport cargo or passengers in the more rural areas, however, in many urban areas the auto rickshaws for passengers are often operated illegally as they are considered unsafe and an eyesore.[19][20] In some towns and cities however they are permitted. The Southeast Asian tuk tuk is transliterated as dū dū chē (嘟嘟车, or beep beep car).[21]

In Hainan, the southernmost province, electric models are used in the capital Haikou. However, in rural areas, a sturdy, petrol-powered, plastic-bodied type is common, similar to the Philippine motorized tricycle.


Auto rickshaw, Mango Orange Village, India
Auto rickshaw being repaired, Bangalore
Old auto rickshaw, Bhedaghat, Madhya Pradesh

Most cities offer auto rickshaw service, although hand-pulled rickshaws do exist in some areas, such as Kolkata.[22]

Auto rickshaws are used in cities and towns for short distances; they are less suited to long distances because they are slow and the carriages are open to air pollution.[23] Auto rickshaws (often called "autos") provide cheap and efficient transportation. Modern auto rickshaws run on compressed natural gas (CNG) and are environmentally friendly compared to full-sized cars.[nb 1]

It is also not uncommon in many parts of Indian metropolitan areas to see primary school children crammed into an auto rickshaw, transporting them between home and school, equivalent to the 'school run' performed by many parents in the West using their own cars.

To augment speedy movement of traffic, auto rickshaws are not allowed in the southern part of Mumbai.[24]

Design and manufacture

There are two types of auto rickshaws in India. In older versions the engines were below the driver's seat, while in newer versions engines are in the rear. They normally run on petrol, CNG, or diesel. The seating capacity of a normal rickshaw is four, including the driver's seat. Six-seater rickshaws exist in different parts of the country, but the model was officially banned in the city of Pune on 10 January 2003 by the Regional Transport Authority (RTA).[25]

CNG autos are distinguishable from the earlier petrol-powered autos by a green and yellow livery, as opposed to the earlier black and yellow appearance. Some local governments are considering four-stroke engines instead of the current two-stroke versions.

Auto rickshaw manufacturers in India include Bajaj Auto, Kumar Motors, Kerala Automobiles Limited, Force Motors (previously Bajaj Tempo), Mahindra & Mahindra, Piaggio Ape, and TVS Motors.


Generally rickshaw fares are controlled by the government.[26]


Bentor in Medan, North Sumatra

In Indonesia, auto rickshaws are popular in Jakarta, Medan, Java, and Sulawesi. In Jakarta, the auto rickshaws are called Bajay or Bajaj and they are similar to the ones in India but are colored blue and orange, the blue color is powered by gas and is imported from India with the brand of Bajaj and TVS, the orange color is the previous design from 1990 and is not powered by gas, yet the government is increasing the blue color and is decreasing the orange color, yet it is one of the most popular transportation in the city. Outside of Jakarta the bentor-style auto rickshaw is more ubiquitous, with the passenger cabin mounted as a sidecar to a motorcycle. Where these sidecar style auto rickshaws do occur in Jakarta they are not referred to as bentor, but rather as bajaj (bajai). They were also popular in East Java until the end of the 20th century and were known as a helicak.


A "jumbo" tuk-tuk in Savannakhet, Laos

Lao tuk-tuks come as tuk-tuks or jumbo tuk-tuks. Jumbos have a larger 3- or 4-cylinder four-stroke engine, and many are powered by Daihatsu engines. Jumbos' larger engine and cabin size allow for greater loads, up to 12 persons, and higher top speeds. Jumbos are (with few exceptions) only found in Vientiane and Luang Prabang.


Auto rickshaws were a popular mode of transport in Nepal during the 1980s and 1990s, until the government banned the movement of 600 such vehicles in the early 2000s.[27] The earliest auto rickshaws running in Kathmandu were manufactured by Bajaj Auto.

Nepal has been a popular destination for the Rickshaw Run. The 2009 Fall Run took place in Goa, India and ended in Pokhara, Nepal.[28]


Auto rickshaw, Karachi
Auto rickshaw, Canal Bank Road, Lahore

Auto rickshaws are a popular mode of transport in Pakistani towns[29] and are mainly used for travelling short distances within cities. One of the major brands of auto rickshaws is Vespa. Lahore is hub of CNG auto rickshaws manufacturers in Pakistan. The government is taking measures to convert all gasoline powered auto rickshaws to cleaner CNG rickshaws by 2015 in all the major cities of Pakistan by issuing easy loans through commercial banks. Environment Canada is implementing pilot projects in Lahore, Karachi, and Quetta with engine technology developed in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada that uses CNG instead of gasoline in the two-stroke engines, in an effort to combat environmental pollution and noise levels.

In many cities in Pakistan, there are also motorcycle rickshaws, usually called "chand gari" (moon car) or "chingchi" (after the Chinese company Jinan Qingqi Motorcycle Co. Ltd who first introduced these to the market).

Rickshaws are forbidden in the capital, Islamabad.

Auto rickshaws have had a history of displaying political statements. In February 2013, that legacy was modified to promote peace. According to Syed Ali Abbas Zaidi, head of the Pakistan Youth Alliance, "We need to take back this romanticized art form and use it for peace sloganeering and conflict resolution."[29]

Manufacturers There are many companies involving in rickshaw manufacturing in Pakistan. Some of them are: AECO Export Company, STAHLCO Motors, Global Sources, Parhiyar Automobiles, Global Ledsys Technologies, Siwa Industries, Prime Punjab Automobiles, Murshid Farm Industries, Sazgar Automobiles, NTN Enterprises, and Imperial Engineering Company.


Auto rickshaws are a popular form of public transportation in the Philippines, where they are referred to as "tricycles" (Filipino: traysikel; Cebuano: traysikol).[30] In the Philippines, the design and configuration of tricycles varies widely from place to place, but tends towards rough standardization within each municipality. The usual design is a passenger or cargo sidecar fitted to a motorbike, usually on the right of the motorbike. It is rare to find one with a left sidecar. Tricycles can carry five passengers or more in the sidecar, one or two pillion passengers behind the driver, and even a few on the roof of the sidecar. Tricycles are one of the main contributors to air pollution in the Philippines, since majority of them employ two-stroke engines. However, some local governments are working towards phasing out two-stroke tricycles for ones with cleaner four-stroke engines.

Motorized tricycle, Dumaguete City
7-passenger tricycle with large sidecar, Province of Aklan.
Tricycle stand, Banaue Municipal Town

Sri Lanka

Auto rickshaw in Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka

Auto rickshaws, commonly known as three-wheelers, can be found on all roads in Sri Lanka from the curvy roads in the hill country to the congested roads of Colombo transporting locals, foreigners, or freight about. Sri Lankan three-wheelers are of the style of the light Phnom Penh-type. Most of the three-wheelers in Sri Lanka are a slightly modified Indian Bajaj model, imported from India though there are few manufactured locally and increasingly imports from other countries in the region and other brands of three-wheelers such as Piaggio. In January 2007 the Sri Lankan government imposed a ban on all 2-stroke three-wheelers, due to environmental concerns. Ones imported to the island now are four-stroke engines. Most three-wheelers are available as hired vehicles, with few being used to haul goods or as private company or advertising vehicles. Bajaj enjoys a virtual monopoly in the island, with its agent being David Pieries Motor Co, Ltd.[31] A few three-wheelers in Sri Lanka have distance meters. In the capital city it is becoming more and more common. The vast majority of fares are negotiated between the passenger and driver.


Police tuk-tuk, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Row of Tuk-Tuks in Maha Rat St., Bangkok, Thailand.

The auto rickshaw, called tuk-tuk (Thai: ตุ๊กตุ๊ก, pronounced "took-took") or sam-lor (Thai: สามล้อ) meaning "three-wheeler" in Thailand, is a widely used form of urban transport in Bangkok and other Thai cities. The name is onomatopoeic, mimicking the sound of a small (often two-cycle) engine. An equivalent English term would be "putt-putt." It is particularly popular where traffic congestion is a major problem, such as in Bangkok and Nakhon Ratchasima. Drivers may also use their tuk-tuks to transport fresh produce around the city in absence of passengers.

Bangkok and other cities in Thailand have many tuk-tuks which are a more open variation on the Indian auto rickshaw. There are no meters, and fares are negotiated in advance. Bangkok fares have risen to nearly equal normal taxis due to uninformed foreigners willing to pay the asking price, but leaves passengers more exposed to environmental pollution than taxis. The solid roof is so low that the tuk-tuk is an inapt touring vehicle. Today few locals take one unless they are burdened with packages or travelling in a big group for short distances.

Many Thai tuk-tuk manufacturers now produce low-emission vehicles, while old tuk-tuks can be fitted with new engines along with LPG conversions. Newer tuk-tuks also have wet weather side curtains to keep passengers and drivers dry.

Thai auto rickshaw manufacturers are, Monika Motors Ltd., TukTuk (Thailand) Co., Ltd., TukTuk Forwerder Co., Ltd. Bangkok and MMW Tuk-Tuks Co.,Ltd. in Hua Hin. Smaller manufacturers are the Chinnaraje Co., Ltd. in Chiang Mai and Expertise Co., Ltd. in Chonburi which manufactures its models in Komaki, Japan, also.


Xe lam in Vietnam (2006) with the Lambretta mark still visible

Known locally as xe lam, the vernacular pronunciation of the Lambro from the Lambretta line by Innocenti of Italy, these vehicles were very popular in the 1960s and 1970s, especially the urban centers of South Vietnam. Over time the authorities have moved to limit their use.

Xe lam with 1-wheel forward and 2-aft were designed to carry passengers whereas other variants with 2-forward and 1-aft, used mostly to transport goods are known as Xe ba gác máy. The motorized version of cycle rickshaw is the Xích lô máy is of the same design.



A number of tuk-tuks (250 in 2013 according to the Paris Prefecture) are used as an alternative tourist transport system in Paris, some of them being pedal-operated with electric motor assist. They are not yet fully licensed to operate and await customers on the streets. Vélotaxis were common during the Occupation years in Paris due to fuel restrictions.[32]


An Ape C (1956–1967)

Auto rickshaws have been commonly used in Italy since the late 1940s, providing a low-cost means of transportation in the post-World-War-II years when the country was short of economic resources. The Piaggio Ape(Tukxi), designed by Vespa creator Corradino D'Ascanio and first manufactured in 1948 by the Italian company Piaggio, though primarily designed for carrying freight has also been widely used as an auto rickshaw. It is still extremely popular throughout the country, being particularly useful in the narrow streets found in the center of many little towns in central and southern Italy. Though it no longer has a key role in transportation, Piaggio Ape is still used as a minitaxi in some areas such as the islands of Ischia and Stromboli (on Stromboli no cars are allowed). It has recently been re-launched as a trendy-ecological means of transportation, or, relying on the role the Ape played in the history of Italian design, as a promotional tool. Since 2006 the Ape has been produced under licence in India.


In Turkey, an auto rickshaw is known as Arçelik Triportör, or simply Triportör for short. They were popular vehicles used by street vendors. The original vehicle was produced by Arçelik, based on the Italian vehicle Lambro created by Ferdinando Innocenti in 1931. It had three forward gears without a reverse gear. The engine capacity was 150 cc. In 1965, the capacity was increased to 198 cc. The brakes were applied only to the rear wheels. Arçelik stopped producing Triportör in 1971.


Since 2007, tuk-tuks have been active in the Netherlands, starting with Amsterdam. They now operate in Amersfoort,[33] Amsterdam, The Hague, Zandvoort, Bergen op Zoom, the popular beach resort Renesse, Rotterdam, and Texel. The tuk-tuks in the Netherlands are imported from India and Thailand. They are fitted with CNG engines and have passed the EURO-4 rules.


Piaggio Ape auto rickshaws have been used in Portugal since the 1980s, mostly for cargo transport. Locally-made tricycles, known as "tricarros" (tri-cars), have been popular from the '50s until early-'90s, usually fitted with 50cc engines in order to be driveable without the requirement for a valid driver license. Major local manufacturers were the now-defunct companies Famel (Fábrica de Artefatos Metálicos), Motalli and Metalúrgica Casal (Casal Metal Works). Tadpole-tricycles with a front-mounted tray had a limited availability either from smaller manufacturers or as motorcycle-based conversions, mostly employed for street-food vending and bottled LPG delivery, with a few surviving examples from the '70s and '80s still operated by ice-cream vendors.

United Kingdom

Tuctucs booking auto rickshaw at Brighton Marina

The first auto rickshaws to enter service in the United Kingdom were supplied and built by MMW Imports in 1999, under the brand name MMW Tuk Tuks. The very first Private Hire licence was issued to an MMW Tuk Tuk for tours of Bath in the year 2000, MMW also gained full Hackney license in Weston-super-Mare. MMW also now export tuk tuks from Thailand to the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, New Zealand and Australia. All the MMW range are built in their own factory in Thailand and are custom made for each customer's needs; hence no two tuk tuks are the same, and they come fully customized as per required spec.[34]

Tukshop of Southampton started the commercial importation of tuk tuks into the UK in 2003, which resulted in many people being inspired to set up taxi-type operations in a number of cities, including Blackpool, Brighton and Leeds. Tukshop failed to gain a taxi operator license for London after a number of media appearances in 2004. The company, founded by mrsteve, are specialists in experiential marketing using the iconic three-wheelers for street marketing campaigns. Clients of Tukshop include many household names, such as T-Mobile, Harrods, Universal Pictures, O2, BBC, Freeview, Price Waterhouse Coopers, Tiger Beer and Grolsch lager. Tukshop have imported and put over 100 tuk tuks on the roads of the UK and Europe between starting the business and October 2010. The company currently stocks models from Piaggio and Bajaj, including commercial versions such as the TM Van.

A Bajaj tuk tuk is currently operated by Bangwallop of Salcombe, South Devon. Taking just two passengers at a time, the tuk tuk has an operator's licence issued by VOSA and trips can be booked in advance.

Auto rickshaws were introduced to the city of Brighton and Hove on 10 July 2006 by entrepreneur Dominic Ponniah's company Tuctuc Ltd. Ponniah had the idea after seeing the vehicles used in India and Sri Lanka. They were CNG-powered, using a four-speed (plus reverse) 175 cc engine. Under the terms of their license, the Bajas ran on a fixed single route, and stopped only at designated stops. They are of the same design as traditional auto rickshaws in other countries.

An investigation was launched into Tuctuc Ltd's operation of the service after complaints were raised, primarily by the city's taxi drivers, that routes, stopping points and timetables were not being adhered to.[35] In November 2006, the company was fined £16,500 — the maximum penalty possible — by the South East Traffic Commissioner. After amendments were made to the timetable to reduce delays and improve reliability, the Commissioner allowed the company to keep its operating license.[36] However, the company announced in January 2008 that it was ceasing operations, citing "archaic legislation" as the reason.[37]

In the Scottish capital, Edinburgh, there is a new street food restaurant called Tuk Tuk Indian Street Food that has its own branded tuk tuks, which are used for marketing around the town and picking up customers on special occasions.

Central America

Bajaj mototaxis in El Salvador

El Salvador

The mototaxi or moto is the El Salvadoran version of the auto rickshaw. These are most commonly made from the front end and engine of a motorcycle attached to a two-wheeled passenger area in back. Commercially produced models, such as the Indian Bajaj brand, are also employed.


In Guatemala the commercial vehicles are referred to as tuk-tuks. Tuk-tuks operate, both as taxis and private vehicles, in Guatemala City, around the island town of Flores, Peten, in the mountain city of Antigua Guatemala, and in many small towns in the mountains. In 2005 the tuk-tuks prevalent in the Lago de Atitlán towns of Panajachel and Santiago Atitlán all appeared to be from India (Bajaj Auto).


Three-wheeled all-in-one tuk-tuks are used in the place of traditional taxis in most rural towns and villages.


As of 2011, there were an estimated 5,000 mototaxis, popularly known as "caponeras".[38]


Three-wheeled Coco taxis in Havana, Cuba


Three-wheeled coco taxis, named for their resemblance to a coconut, are used in Havana. Because of the US trade embargo and Cuba's balance of payments issues, it cannot afford new vehicles. Cocos are used as taxis in Havana.

South America

Home-made conversion mototaxi in Guayaquil, Ecuador
Mototaxi in Ica, Peru


The mototaxi is the Ecuatorian version of the auto rickshaw. These are most commonly made from the front end and engine of a motorcycle attached to a two-wheeled passenger area in back.


It is a common sight in the rural areas, towns and cities of Peru to see auto rickshaws, locally known as "mototaxis," "motokars", "taxi cholo", or "cholotaxi" lining up to pick up passengers as their fares are generally lower than car taxis. They are also in the capital, Lima, but they are usually restricted to the peripheral districts. The "jungle" cities and towns in eastern Peru are famous for their prevalence of auto rickshaws. This vehicle, usually running on regular unleaded gasoline, is the main non-private transport vehicle, and is known as "motocarro", "mototaxi" or "tuk-tuk" (for foreigners).

Many of the jungle areas of eastern Peru can be extremely noisy as a result of poorly maintained auto rickshaws and other 2 or 3-wheel vehicles, especially in high traffic or hilly areas. Auto rickshaw brands such as the Indian-made Bajaj, which use GLP [a form of liquified petroleum gas which some car taxis also use] are much quieter.

North America

United States

"The Westcoaster Mailster [39] was a small three-wheeled vehicle used for mail delivery by the United States Post Office Department during the 1950s and 60s." It looks strikingly similar to the Tuk Tuk of 2006.

Tuk Tuks were introduced to the United States through Tuk Tuk North America of Swainsboro, Georgia. As early as 2006, Mr. Roy Jordan, the owner of Tuk Tuk North America, began working with both the U.S. federal government and manufacturers in Thailand to configure a tuk tuk that was cost effective but adaptable to meet or exceed U.S. Department of Transportation regulations. He was able to contract a manufacturer who could make imported tuk tuks that could meet all necessary federal regulations in the U.S. Original products were imported from Thailand and were gas propelled. Due to the changing regulations of the Environmental Protection Agency, the introduction of imported gas-propelled tuk tuks was short-lived. Due to such changes, in 2009 Tuk Tuk North America decided to go dormant in its importing of gas propelled tuk tuks into the U.S.

However, with the growing emphasis on sustainable “green” energy and the recognition of the continuing rising oil prices, in 2011 the project's short dormancy was rejuvenated being redirected towards introduction of a complete line of all-electric tuk tuks. The line included eight models of "street legal" tuk tuks including passenger, utility, and delivery vehicles. These were offered under the manufacturer’s new name, Electro Technologies LLC, and marketed and sold exclusively through Tuk Tuk Transport LLC of Lenoir City, Tennessee, under the leadership of C. Phillip Tallant.

Prior to 2013, the greatest obstacle to commercial transportation usage of the electric tuk tuks created by Electro Technologies was addressed in mid 2013 by providing a means by which ET Tuk Tuks could be in service 24/7. With this advancement grew the opportunity for formation of Tuk Tuk of America, a company by which partnering affiliates across the U.S. could begin their own local niche urban mobility transportation company with guaranteed protected territories.

Fuel efficiency and pollution

In July 1998, the Supreme Court of India ordered the Government of Delhi to implement CNG or LPG (Autogas) fuel for all autos and for the entire bus fleet in and around the city. Delhi's air quality has improved with the switch to CNG. Initially, auto rickshaw drivers in Delhi had to wait in long queues for CNG refueling, but the situation has improved with the increase of CNG stations. Gradually, many state governments passed similar laws, thus shifting to CNG or LPG autos in most large cities to improve air quality and reduce pollution. Certain local governments are pushing for four-stroke engines instead of the current two-stroke versions. Typical mileage for an Indian-made auto rickshaw is around 35 kilometres per litre (99 mpg-imp; 82 mpg-US) of petrol. Pakistan has passed a similar law prohibiting auto rickshaws in certain areas. CNG auto rickshaws have started to appear in huge numbers in many Pakistani cities.

In January 2007 the Sri Lankan government also banned two-stroke trishaws to reduce air pollution. In the Philippines[40] there are projects to convert carburated two-stroke engines to direct-injected via Envirofit technology. Research has shown LPG or CNG gas direct-injection to be retrofit-able to existing engines in similar fashion to the Envirofit system.[41] In Vigan City majority of tricycles-for-hire as of 2008 are powered by motorcycles with four-stroke engines, as tricycles with two-stroke motorcycles are prevented from receiving operating permits. Direct injection is standard equipment on new machines in India.[42][43]

In March 2009 an international consortium coordinated by the International Centre for Hydrogen Energy Technologies initiated a two-year public-private partnership of local and international stakeholders aiming at operating a fleet of 15 hydrogen-fueled three-wheeled vehicles in New Delhi's Pragati Maidan complex.[44] As of January 2011, the project was upon completion.

In the meantime, in October, 2011, the Department of Transportation for the U.S. approved the complete 2012 series of American made, all-electric tuk tuks by Electro Technologies. Chassis were still being shipped in from Thailand, but now with the inclusion of all electrical components as manufactured only in the U.S. with assembly completed in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The American made electric tuk tuks were unique in that they were charged through common 110v outlets providing a range of 97 to 161 kilometres (60 to 100 mi) per charge (depending upon model and conditions) with a recharge time between 4 to 6 hours. The Electro Technologies Tuk Tuks topped out at 64 kilometres per hour (40 mph) which perfectly addresses the needs of their design; niche urban mobile transportation.

The greatest obstacle to daily usage in niche urban mobile commercial transportation was addressed in 2013 by Electro Technologies when they introduced their quick-release battery pack allowing for restoration of 100% power availability in just a few short minutes. This commercial upgrade allowed niche urban transportation businesses to operate 24/7 with no interruption to business.

Traffic issues

Auto rickshaws have a top-speed of around 50 kilometres per hour (31 mph) and a cruising speed of around 35 kilometres per hour (22 mph), much slower than the automobiles they share the road with. Traffic authorities in big cities try to implement mechanisms to reduce the resulting traffic slowing, but none have proven effective.

The MMW Tuk Tuk has a top speed of around 110 kilometres per hour (68 mph) and with the introduction of the new turbo will have much improved acceleration, to allow for increased speed these Tuk Tuks have anti-roll bars and are fitted with disc brakes.

The triangular form of the vehicle makes maneuvering easy, with the single front wheel negotiating the available gap, and the rear two wheels forcing a larger space. Care must be taken even at low speeds, however, because of the stability problems of three-wheeler vehicles with a single front wheel. Such a "delta"-configuration three-wheeler can easily roll if the driver turns while braking.

In the Philippines, 2-stroke motor tricycle such as Yamaha RS-100T can give a top speed of 55 kilometres per hour (34 mph) (with one passenger in the sidecar), or 30–40 kilometres per hour (19–25 mph) (full passengers in the sidecar).

More powerful four-stroke motor tricycles such as Honda TMX & Yamaha STX & Bajaj CT-100 can give a top speed up to 70–85 kilometres per hour (43–53 mph) (special trip/one passenger) or 40–50 kilometres per hour (25–31 mph) (full passengers).


Due to their relatively low top-speed, auto rickshaws have never lent themselves to conventional road or street racing. However, their modest speed, simple construction and impressive fuel economy has endeared them to the international amateur adventuring community, most notably with the Rickshaw Run and also the Indian Autorickshaw Challenge, and even off-road racing with the Apecar competitions[45] in Italy. A Tuk Tuk built by Art In Motion, LLC competed in the 2008 Fireball Run II – Back to the Track [46]

Portrayal in media

Auto rickshaws are often portrayed in Indian films (Auto Shankar, Basha, Aye Auto, Oram Po, Hero Hiralal) as well as some Hollywood and foreign productions such as the James Bond film Octopussy, the Canada-India film Amal and the Indonesian movie Pembalasan Rambu. Auto rickshaws are also prominent in the fuel-poor London of 2027 A.D. depicted in Children of Men. A memorable tuk-tuk chase features in the Thai film Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior, climaxing with many of them driving off the edge of an unfinished elevated expressway. The video games Just Cause 2, Stuntman, Far Cry 4 and Battlefield: Bad Company 2: Vietnam feature Tuk-Tuks as drivable vehicles. James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) rides in a tuk-tuk in a Visa Card commercial.[47]

See also


  1. ^ Typical fuel economy for an Indian-made auto rickshaw is around 35 kilometres per litre (99 mpg-imp; 82 mpg-US) of petrol.


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External links

  • Article: Hybrid tuk-tuks are coming
  • The India 1000 – an article in Wired about auto rickshaw racing
  • Dial-a-rickshaw services changing the auto-rickshaw ecosystem
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