All across the developing world, the gas or propane-powered “tuk-tuks” transport people and goods across many developing nations. Small and designed for short, intracity commerce and journeys, tuk-tuks are an ideal candidate for electrification, and a designer named Kyle Armstrong has penned a design for an electric tuk-tuk that won the Core 77 design award.
Armstrong, an Australian, used the popular Vespa Ace as his jumping-off point for the Lindo’s design, but it quickly took on a life of its own. Made of carbon fiber and titanium, Armstrong envisions the Lindo as a small part of a larger on-demand transportation infrastructure. Using a simple smartphone app, customers can hail a driverless Lindo to come and pick them up, and then automatically taking them to their pre-determined destination(s). Using six lithium-ion batteries and a supercapacitor, charging could be accomplished quickly and seamlessly between fares.
Just don’t look for electric tuk-tuks to replace the conventional models in the near future. The Lindo so far exists only in Armstrong’s imagination and in virtual renderings, and it could take a couple of decades before EV and autonomous vehicle technology has advanced to the point to make the Lindo viable. Armstrong certainly doesn’t have the deep pockets of a company like Google, but if somebody can develop a clean and affordable alternative to the tuk-tuks of today, that benefits for both air quality and the economy would be felt almost immediately.