If you’ve been to Thailand, you probably rode one. If you’ve been to Italy, you definitely took a picture of one. If you’ve seen “Children of Men” you might be afraid of them. We’re talking about Tuk Tuks, the not so new-school vehicle that might be the next step in mobile dining.
Tuk Tuks are formally known as “auto rickshaws.” Essentially, it’s a three-wheeled scooter/car/transformer. “Rickshaw” originates from the Japanese word “Jinrikisha,” which literally means “Human-powered vehicle”. These covered tricycles are operated with foot pedals and are used in many developing countries, dating back to the early 1900s. Dutch company Tuk Tuk Factory is putting a new spin on the auto rickshaw to make it both relevant and tasty.
Introducing the e-Tuk Vendo! “This new electric Tuk Tuk breed is custom made to make sure your products have the nicest display in the best areas,” the company’s site claims. This creation might be little, but it’s bound to make a big impact. But that impact won’t be on the environment. The Vendo is 100% electronic, and can drive for about 40 miles per charge. A full charge requires 10 hours of wall time, but the vehicle is strategically designed to be plugged in during stops. It’s got enough power to keep the refrigerator running while simultaneously gracing the streets with its presence. When plugged in, the Tuk Tuk can power all systems on board (fridge, water pumps, etc.).
Not only is it eco-friendly, but it’s realistic too. The Vendo is designed to give the vendors the workspace they need and the vendees the display they’re used to. The right side of the Tuk Tuk offers 3 cubic meters of selling space, while the back has plenty of storage. The side panel can be folded to create a canopy, after which a table can be extended from the vehicle. It’s everything we know and love about a food truck, minus a wheel.
The bare essentials price is 24,000 Euros, but for just a little extra dough, Tukers can trick their rides out with a solar roof and fast chargers (2 and 5 hours).
Great, but will the Vendo really gain clout in the U.S.? Roland Vos, director of Tuk Tuk Factory, seems to think so; “We can see a substantial market emerging in the area of distribution and sales of biologic and sustainable foods. The go-local trend drives and accelerates this emerging market need. These initiatives find it important that their distribution and sales van is clean and green, it’s often a side condition in their marketing concept.” Well, Roland is definitely right about that. Going green is becoming increasingly important to consumers, and the Tuk Tuks provide great alternatives to the gas guzzling behemoths that we love so much.
Toeti Froeti founder Astrid van Vugt, the Vendo’s first owner, explains, “People react instantaneously and very positively, everybody turns their head, looks and smiles.” Alexander Mascini, head of Tuk Tuk Factory sales is similarly enthusiastic, claiming that he gets “requests from every country on the globe for electric vending vans, even before the vehicle was launched or developed.” Sure, it’s cute, but how realistic is it? The Vendo has a one-passenger capacity, which any food truck owner knows is highly unrealistic. The science of food trucking is an elaborate one. Each truck has it’s own method, but most, if not all rely heavily on teamwork and group dynamics. A popular truck is in high demand, and considering how charming the Vendo is, it’s sure to attract attention. Is it streamlined enough to work successfully as a one-man show? Will Vendos be the next trend in portable food preparation? Check out the photos and let us know what you think!
by Sienna Mintz