A small workshop by the pyramids threatens a major import from India and China
Rickshaws, small 3-wheeled public taxi vehicles that have a strong presence in developing nations, like Egypt, India and Thailand, among others – credits to billions in exports by mass manufacturing nations, specifically India and China. However a man and his workshop in Egypt have been creating a buzz on the media, for threatening to disrupt the industry.
Meet Ahmed Saeed El-Feki, owner of a small workshop in Kerdasa, Egypt, a low-income village close to the famous Giza Pyramids – is also the inventor of minicar Egypt. Minicar is a vehicle that serves the same purpose as rickshaws, which is operating transportation in areas that are too populated or narrow to fit normal cars.
The main reason behind the buzz around El-Feki’s invention is that it poses improvement to the already-existing rickshaws (also referred to as Tuk Tuks) in almost every way, including manufacturing cost.
Minicar sports a 300cc engine, as opposed to 175cc on Tuk Tuks, also running on 4 wheels, instead of 3.
“The minicar is similar to the Tuk Tuk but I feel it is more practical when I drive it inside my village,” said Hossam Gamal el-Halawany, an owner of a minicar, previously a Tuk Tuk, adding. “It can carry more passengers, around five, in addition to the driver.”
Besides specs, the hand-made vehicle is for sale at a competitive price of 34,000 Egyptian pounds ($1, 907), while Tuk Tuks cost approximately 38,000 Egyptian ($2,130 dollars). Such an upgrade from the Tuk Tuk threatens to disrupt Egypt’s imports of Tuk Tuks, which are estimated at $290 million annually.
While El-Feki was offered by an investor from Mozambique to manufacture his vehicle in their home country, he instead opted for a deal with the Egyptian government to have the parts manufactured by military-run factories.
Previously, El-Feki manufactured the vehicles by hand, creating 30-40 vehicles a month. Now with a manufacturing facility doing the hard work for him, it leaves him with just the assembly process, giving him more time to develop upgrades to his product.
When asked about the inspiration behind his invention, El-Feki said “The idea came at the same time as the flotation of the Egyptian pound so we decided to think outside the box and create a local product to replace the Tuk Tuk,” referring to Egypt’s president Al Sisi’s economic reform approach to shore up the country’s economy.