Interview with Adam Rice, founder and CEO of eTUKTUK

In one of our last articles we were talking about the eTukTuk, an electric Rickshaw designed for European roads. Of course we didn't want to miss the chance to ask Adam Rice a couple of questions about this exceptional means of mobility.

Adam Rice (left) and Wolfgang Knoerr, founders of eTukTuk
Adam Rice (left) and Wolfgang Knoerr, founders of eTukTuk.

How did you come up with the idea for eTUKTUK and why did you pursue it in the end?

In Winter 2010 I decided to go to India for a while. One day I used a tuk-tuk to get to the airport. Of course I had been in many tuk-tuks before but because I was late for my plane, the driver was cutting in and out of traffic, going around cars, buses, bikes, and cows. When I arrived on time to catch my flight, I was astonished about the agility and speed by which the tuk-tuk had managed to go through the traffic. So I thought that something alike could be a hit in Europe, too. I believed it would be cool to have tuk-tuks in Germany and use them as a marketing vehicle. At the same time I realised that simply importing tuk-tuks from Thailand or India probably wouldn’t work because, first of all, they wouldn’t pass the annual general inspection of the MOT. Also, they are very dirty and stinky. And thus wouldn’t comply with my life philosophy. I try to live a healthy life and told myself that whatever business I create must reflect on that philosophy. At the same time, I came across a report in a newspaper talking about how Chancellor Angela Merkel wanted Germany to be the leading country for eMobility in Europe. I saw this as a great opportunity to bring electric tuk-tuks to Germany. So I started looking around to find someone who could either build one for me or had already created one. I eventually came across a company in Holland called the Tuk Tuk Factory. They told me that they were in the last stages of developing an electric tuk-tuk. So I decided to purchase the distribution rights for Germany exclusively. This meant that my company eTUKTUK was born and in July 2011 we got first delivery of electric tuk-tuks.

What kind of service does your company provide at the moment?

Our company is built on three main pillars: one is the rental of these vehicles. We strongly focus on incentives like corporate events because then we can do large groups at once. We have ten tuk-tuks in Berlin right now and we get a lot of business from companies, organisations, and institutions. We rent our tuk-tuks for promotions, marketing actions, and sightseeing tours. These we do in convoy style so a guide sitting in a tuk-tuk drives in the front and our guests get to drive their own tuk-tuk behind. Our guests get the experience of driving a vehicle that they probably would have never driven in their life. People like it because it has this nostalgic feeling to it and it’s just very different. When we go on tour through the city the attention we get is immense. You got bus tours, bike tours, and Segway tours but this is something people have never seen before. Another pillar is the sales of the tuk-tuks. We are the distribution arm of the factory so we’re the ones selling these tuk-tuks to resorts, for example, but all over the world not just in Germany. We just sold nineteen eTUKTUKs to a resort in Dubai. Finally, the last pillar is franchising. This eTUKTUK business is now being franchised at a partnership to other cities. We have a big one in Zurich and Hamburg at the moment. Barcelona and Munich will most probably follow next year. The expansion of our business model is also a very important part of our company.

Many people say that we currently experience the most exciting time in automobile history. What is the future of eMobility?

I think the future of eMobility is very promising. But: if Germany specifically really wants to push it, the government has to do more to subsidise buyers and to help manufactures, and service providers. In other countries, for example in Spain, the government offers buyers of electric cars up to 50% subsidy. In Germany, they don’t have any of that. I think the reason is that the government is waiting for German manufacturers to bring their electric cars out. In general that’s one big area where they have to do more. Also, in our case, we would be able to grow a lot faster if they gave us something like a certificate of exemption so that we could offer a lot more services. The government needs to be prepared to make more changes to laws.

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