Blog: Indian Quadricycles
Dave Leggett | 1 July 2005
There's a fascinating tale inside the feature we've published today on Quadricycles in India. In terms of basic concept, we're talking about the cheap technology utilised on two-wheelers being adapted to create four-wheels and a platform for people and cargo. If the vehicles can be made cheap enough, then they could be a hit in India, sitting in the middle of the large price gap between two-wheelers and the cheapest car on the market - the Maruti 800.
So, what about European 'microcar' technology? You may know of these curious machines; the flimsy looking little two-seater cars made by makers such as Aixam and Ligier. You'd occasionally blast pass one and its carefree driver crusing along the inside lane of an autoroute at about 20mph and it used to be the case that you didn't need to pass a test or need a driving licence to drive them (I seem to remember they found a niche in France with people who had lost their driving licences due to drink-driving convictions - they could still drive microcars). I think the annual market for these cars, while significant, was always small - maybe 9,000 a year in France, a smaller number in Spain and a few thousand sprinkled across other European countries. Not sure how they do these days.
Well there's a problem for India in going the European way. The European products use relatively expensive solutions and materials to get the vehicle weight down as far as possible. Potential Indian Quadricycle providers, like TVS, are much keener on low-tech and cheaper solutions. The European microcar model isn't such a good fit for India - the cars would come out uncomfortably close in price to the M800.
But the Indian Quadricycle does not yet exist! No-one is making them yet, waiting to see where the industrial playing field is finally set by the authorities. It is all to play for in terms of the regulatory framework that the industry will have to work within. There's a big political battle going on between prospective Quadricycle makers and carmakers who are worried that the Quads will steal sales from them at the low end of the car market. Come on you Quads!
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