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AUTO RICKSHAWS

by v ramchandra rao.

Indian autorickshawAutorickshaws, or small motorised three wheeled transport vehicles which run on a motorcycle or scooter engine , are replacing pedalled rickshaws all over India and Southeast asia. Here too there are several types and models in different countries .( I am familiar with the Indian ones. Please do send page links or details of other types.)

The older Autorickshaws in India had a Lambretta designed engine but they've been phased out as it consumed too much petrol ( gasoline). Vespa-designed engines took over--the commonest one found in India today is the Bajaj autorickshaw. There are several models. The newer ones have the engine at the back and are less noisy. There's also a move to change all the engines to run on CNG --compressed natural gas-- like being introduced in Delhi. Less air pollution, cheaper, etc. The Bajaj autorickshaw is mainly seen as a passenger taxi vehicle, painted bright yellow and black. Some models are utility pickup vehicles used for short hauls . There is a trailer-type one also, used for bulkier merchandise. In Delhi, some on motorcycle engines too.

A larger version has a diesel engine. This seats seven passengers unlike the small common autorickshaw. In several towns these larger vehicles compete successfully to the state run bus services, even where they are efficiently run like in Andhra Pradesh. Curiously the workers of the state run bus service hate the very sight of these three wheeled seven seaters--"cuts into our profits" muttered a conductor,"besides causing accidents". Now they have been allowed only on some roads, but commuters find them convenient. Tata Motors is introducing a small four wheeler and this could slowly phase out the autorickshaws.

A ride in the city in an Indian autorickshaw, especially in Hyderabad, is actually is an adventure. I suppose the dormant Aryan genes of the population wake up sometimes , ask themselves "what am I doing !" start chafing at the bit and act up every now and then. Good substitute for a horse drawn war chariot massacring the enemy, or something. After a couple of rides, you develop a peculiar simultaneous combination of calm detached philosophy and persistent adrenalin frenzy. The drivers are convinced their horns have some magickal power to remove petty obstacles, like onrushing trucks. The turning circle of the three wheelers is very, very small, capable of making 180 degree turns in dense traffic--- and the drivers are usually of a sporting type. Of course, passengers have been killed too.

Go kart racing is picking up, but people still really don't know about it. Some enthusiasts were trying to fix old scooter engines on a frame with four wheels, but apparently power pick up is not sufficient. Probably gear and clutch design issue.

The previous government talked about setting up a Formula 1 race track, but the plan has been shelved. Volkswagen was planning to set up a plant in Andhra Pradesh. Their Skoda cars are quite popular here.

New: Bunch of crazy autorickshaw enthusiasts from all over the world, mainly England, have been staging very long cross country rallies in autorickshaws across India. What's this prove? that excellent and inexpensive Orthopedic treatment for aching backs and bottoms is available in India.

Hollywood duo Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt were in Pune, India recently to shoot for a film. Guess what they insisted on riding to and fro.


further info, reader's additions, and the like

Cooper:-- My granddaughter wants to know when autorickshaws were first introduced in India. Couldn't find it on the web.
--I drew a blank too. Maybe Lambretta/Vespa Inc could tell us. I think in post war Italy, inexpensive scooters and three wheelers were mass produced. In the early 50's they were first seen in India said some people.

RMF9--In Thailand they are called "Tuk-Tuk's" because of the sound they make.  

A.D.--The older Goa autorickshaws used to be enclosed with doors, like a horse drawn carriage-- are they still there?

Mr Armadillo's observations on autorickshaws

Elli: How much do these things cost?
The prices fluctuate: better check up web auto magazines .

Bart van Dongen: I visited your website while looking for the site of the indian tuk-tuk manufacturer. Do you have the webpage-address? I recently visited Sri Lanka.

--Try this bajaj auto 3 wheeler page and light vehicle exporters list at indiamart.com .



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