Last week, Thailand’s Ministry of Energy announced some big plans for the country’s humble tuk-tuks. Not only do they plan to export electric versions of the vehicles to three European countries, they also plan to convert the country’s 22,000 existing LPG (liquid petroleum gas) powered tuk-tuks to electric-powered over the next five years.
The ministry has been running a pilot project for converting the LPG vehicles to electricity and has now approved government funding to convert 100 existing vehicles, with approval for more conversations in the works, reported Thai PBS.
The purpose of the conversion project is part of the ministry’s ongoing effort toward adoption of electric vehicles for public transportation.
Tuk-tuk owners that would like to have their vehicles converted for free can apply online.
So far, THB76 million (US$2.2 million) has been allocated for the project but much more is needed to reach the lofty goal of converting 22,000 vehicles.
According to one of the ministry’s directors, Thawarat Suttabutra, one of the biggest issues with the project is the price of the vehicle batteries — they cost about THB100,000 (US$2,994) each and need to be replaced every 5 years.
Currently, LPG-powered tuk-tuks are sold in France, Sweden, and Denmark. Ministry officials noted that part of their new plan includes exporting electric tuk-tuks instead of the fuel-powered models.