Does this spell the end for Sri Lanka’s beloved tuk-tuks? Our noisy, tourist-friendly, most-convenient-form-of-transport-on-the-planet three-wheelers?

Possibly. But then again, possibly not.

The Bajaj Qute is being touted as the new kid on the mass-transport block. All the convenience and nippiness of a tuk-tuk, but none of the downsides. A little four-wheeler car-car!

As Sri Lanka’s well-known website reports, “our friendly neighbourhood tuk-tuk has always been one of the most convenient modes of transportation for low budget commuters.

“For decades, these three-wheeled vehicles have been roaming (sometimes owning) Sri Lankan streets, but now, a fancier four-wheeled distant relative of the tuk tuk has appeared on the scene ‒ will the Bajaj Qute mean three-wheelers are seeing the end of their days?”

Well, no, it doesn’t. At least, not necessarily.

So far, despite the full panoply of a massive marketing drive by Bajaj, the Qute has had a lukewarm reception from Sri Lanka’s tuk-tuk drivers themselves.

Says one: “I have been driving my three-wheeler for over a decade now and I love my vehicle. I cannot think of replacing it. But then again, I am growing old and so is my vehicle. I suppose we have to give way to new things.”

Says another: “The Bajaj Qute sounds too posh for us,” adding that “if the price is less than a three-wheeler, I suppose we could try it out. It all depends on how the consumers would accept it, though. We’ll see how it goes. I was always a three-wheeler driver not a cab driver and these new things sometimes hurt my head.”

Says Bajaj: “Qute is a four-wheeler, yet not a car. It comes under a whole new category — the quadricycle. It is a new-age vehicle that carries the attributes of a three-wheeler as well as those of a car.

“It is compact, lightweight, and has a carbon footprint that is 37% lesser than the smallest car available. Like a car, it is spacious and has an enclosed body structure, giving the driver and passengers a comfortable and safe ride.

“Also, it has adequate space for luggage and runs at optimum restricted city speed, which provides safety for all.”

So there you have it. What do you think? Tuk-tuk or (quite cute) Qute? Let us know.

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