The lowly tricycle: occupying some hazy middle ground between car and bicycle, all too often it's dismissed as a novelty, a lark suitable only for children and dedicated iconoclasts – see, for example, T3 Motion's R3
. But some places recognize the tricycle's usefulness, and one of those places is the Philippines, where the three-wheeled wonders are a keystone of public transit. Now the country is taking another step forward by upgrading its gasoline-powered trikes to electric. Obviously not designed to compete with, say, electric motorcycles
on speed or style, they do have a certain yellow-school-bus charm. More important than aesthetic concerns, the new electric models will have one-quarter the carbon footprint of their gas-burning predecessors; in a nation where tricycles burn nearly five billion dollars worth of fuel each year, emitting ten million tons of carbon dioxide, that's a huge impact. The government also hopes to save tens of millions of dollars by upgrading; it's already committed to 20,000 trikes for the capital, with more to follow nationwide. If electric tricycles succeed in the Philippines, maybe we'll all be one step closer to eliminating the stigma of the third wheel – at least when it comes to transportation.