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The real autos at the Expo

The ubiquitous three wheeler has come of age, Aasheesh Sharma discovers at the Auto Expo 2004.

india Updated: Jan 20, 2004 12:39 IST

This was something beyond my regular interaction with the autowallah. Holding onto the sidebar for dear life, travelling 20 kilometres through foggy roads to the Auto Expo on a three-wheeler, can be a bone-rattling experience. But a recce of the real autos at the Auto Expo 2004, sounded too tempting.

And I was in for the ride of my life. Ice-cream parlours, bakeries-on-wheels and zero-emission machines: Sleekly made, environment friendly autos with ergonomic design are the New Age avatar of the ubiquitous three wheeler.

One of the most impressive stalls here is the Piaggio one. “With a market share of 40 per cent, we are the leaders in the cargo segment. And our USP is customisation,” announces Managing Director Ravi Chopra. “So, according to client needs, our machines can metamorphose into a LPG cylinder career, a mobile book shop, a chicken career or a bakery on wheels. The one-tonner, our most popular design, is priced at Rs 1,10,000,” elaborates Chopra. “Since Piaggio entered the market in 1997, the cargo segment has seen a boom of sorts,” he adds.

And if you thought three wheelers are synonymous with pollution, the TVS stall can lead you to a rethink. “Our first foray into the three wheeler market will be with an eco-friendly product. The Electra is a zero-emission three-wheeler. It can do upto 100 kilometre in one charge. The basic model may be priced between Rs 1.25-1.5 lakh,” announces Naresh Chandra Sharma, general manager, advanced engineering, TVS. “Our next project will be an electric hybrid that will run for the first 20 kilometres on the electric mode, and then switch gears to the internal combustion engine mode outside city limits,” adds Sharma. Really interesting, considering that CNG is still a dirty word for many auto drivers in the city.

First Published: Jan 20, 2004 00:00 IST