So, clearly, this little car is not meant for the mass market of the United States. It resembles a traditional rickshaw, but the Meguru is an electric car made of bamboo, steel and paper. It has a range of 25 miles per charge, and a top speed of 25 mph. It’s lithium battery takes two hours to charge. The frame is made of steel, the floor is bamboo and the fan-shaped doors are actually made of paper from wood pulp.
Estimated price for this novel form of Asian nostalgia? Less than $10,000.
It’s easy to imagine the Meguru gliding quietly along the streets of Kyoto, given it has a traditional-looking design. (In fact craftsman from Kyoto were involved in the project). Because of the fusion design, it could be a hit with tourists who want slower-paced trips for sight-seeing and generally having fun. (If you don’t believe me, witness Tama the train cat, who is credited with increasing local train passenger revenues by 10% from tourism.)
I’m sure traveling around parts of Kyoto in an electrified rickshaw with a bamboo floor would be more enjoyable than riding a large bus full of tourists. It could also be used in the way of the horse and buggy rides in New York’s Central Park — although it may be a little to geeky to be considered romantic.
Some refer to this type of car as an NEV, or neighborhood electric vehicle, which have seen some recent press regarding poor safety. Perhaps, with its steel frame, Meguru has better safety features? Somehow I don’t think so, but then again, how safe is a horse buggy if it gets hit by an SUV? Maybe if it’s only used on less-trafficked roads or at non-peak traffic hours the safety question wouldn’t be an issue?
Anyway, is quirkiness may not be its biggest downfall. $10,000 is a lot of money when an electric scooter can be had at a fraction of the price. It seems to be not a whole lot more than a customized golf cart, albeit with a somewhat higher top speed and a bit of an elegance factor.
Image Credit: Yodagawa