[Executive Edge] The Filipino tricycle reimagined
Atoy Llave, the chief designer of H2O Technologies, Incorporated, an innovation and technology company, has reimagined the tricycle as we know it by making it amphibious.
The Salamander, as this tricycle has been named, was designed over 24 months of research and development as a solution to flood-prone areas, particularly Navotas. They were challenged to do so by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) through Sohail Hasne, its principal energy specialist.
From this form, Salamander can quickly become disaster-ready.
Llave said the vehicle is also built with a patent pending compartmentalized hull to enable the vehicle to float on water. “Once flooding arises, with a switch of a lever, the mud type, industrial grade propeller can travel even in flood waters,” Llave said.
The steering wheel is used for both land and water. Llave said that the built-in rudder enables the Salamander to maneuver even in water. While these features are impressive, the proprietary design made sourcing the parts difficult – the biggest challenge of Salamander’s development.
That Salamander is flexible enough to serve two different purposes – daily transport and emergency rescue – makes it cost-effective. Barangays would not have to shell out money for rescue vehicles potentially used only a few days out of the year.
Still, Llave recommended limiting its daily use, so it is in prime condition come flooding season.
A few years ago, the idea of an amphibious tricycle being used in the Philippines, much less by local government units, would have been laughed at. But transportation is one of the industries in the country on the frontline of technological disruption.
That the government is willing to work with these tech companies now bodes well for H2O Technologies and its Salamander.
But what will it take to see the Salamander be widely available on the commercial market?
Cost, of course, is the most important factor. Llave said that the H2O Technologies team is trying to find the best price possible for their market. To them, this comes down to sourcing the most appropriate parts while still maintaining the delicate balance between quality and cost.
With all the buzz that Salamander has received, some Filipinos will want to use it as a leisure vehicle.
For these customers, the H2O Technologies team has created a version of Salamander for private use that would cost about P280,000 ($6,196.88).
The Salamander, with higher specs and added features that can be used as a national government vehicle and rescue vehicle, would range from P300,000 ($6,634.36) and P495,000 ($10,929.47).
Right partnership can also help make Salamander widely available, Llave said.
“At this time, our focus is really on making these vehicles available to flood prone barangays throughout the country by talking with potential strategic investors,” he said.
An investor or strategic partner could help mass produce and manufacture Salamander for the Philippine market. While the H20 Technologies team is still in talks with potential investors and partners, Llave is realistic about when the Salamander can hit the commercial market even with their help.
“Eventually, our team will need to then discuss what the potential may be to make these vehicles generally available, but we do not see this happening for another 12 to 18 months,” he said.
Here’s to hoping that Llave’s realism will make the Salamander’s road to market as smooth, as say, sailing on water. – Rappler.com
$1 = P45.29