A battery-powered version of a tuk-tuk (or auto rickshaw) is to go into production in Asia, featuring key parts manufactured by UK company, Sevcon.
Gateshead-based Sevcon partnered with Swedish manufacturer Clean Motion to develop the Zbee, a three-wheel electric city passenger vehicle. Now going into production in Indonesia, it is being touted as a zero-emission alternative to the popular, high-emission Bajaj – Indonesia’s version of the tuk-tuk automotive rickshaw.
100,000 sales a year
The Zbee will be rolled out in the Indonesian capital Jakarta first, with plans make it the low carbon passenger vehicle of choice across Asia. Sales are projected to reach 100,000 a year.
Sevcon’s work led to a visit to the region by a delegation from the Indonesian Counsel in London, to explore the potential opportunities to work together in the low-carbon vehicle market.
Matt Boyle, president and chief executive of Sevcon, said: “The Indonesian Government is very keen to support jobs for Indonesian workers and wanted to see what potential there is to attract OEMs such as Sevcon to Indonesia.
“This is a significant contract for Sevcon with our partner Clean Motion aiming for sales of 100,000 a year.”
The Zbee features Sevcon’s Gen 4 motor controller, which controls the speed and movement of the vehicle, and also helps to optimise the battery’s range. The Gen4 range was first launched in 2009 and features in Renault’s ground-breaking Twizy. Just last month, Sevcon launched the DC version of the popular motor.
Fitted with a 4KwH lithium ion battery pack, the new Zbee has a range of around 50km (31 miles) and a top speed of 45km (27mph). Recharging takes less than two hours from a regular wall socket. With room for a driver and two passengers, seat behind, all three benefit from the inclusion of seat belts; something that is missing in many of the combustion and cycle tuk-tuks.
Popular throughout much of Asia, tuk-tuks first developed as pulled rickshaws or cycle rickshaws before being motorised, mostly with petrol engines or compressed natural gas engines and becoming commonly used as hire vehicles or taxis. An electric version could provide a clean alternative to petrol models, helping cities throughout Asia clean up road transport.
To kick-start sales, Clean Motion intends to set up an office in Singapore next month to spearhead sales across Asia.
Clean Motion, CEO Göran Folkesson said. “We aim for ZBee to be a global vehicle, the natural choice of transportation in all cities whether it is
London, Denpasar or Jakarta."