Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Hybrid Motorcyles

Somewhere, Gandhi is smiling. Indian markets are going to get the world's first commercial hybrid motor-cycle.

Motorcyle ads in India commonly boast mileages of up to 80kmpl. Well, this this does one better. At 280 mpg (~ 120kmpl), these bikes are about the greenest personal transport available. With top speeds of 40mph (70kmph), these seem ideal people negotiating the relatively small distances that one encounters in Indian cities.

And at $855 (or Rs 40,000), these things are eminently affordable.

Can you sense a trend here? India getting to a western standard of living without consuming as many resources per-capita as the west does. India's move towards Gandhian engineering is a lesson for the rich world. India's per-capita income levels will never reach the levels of the US - but its standard of living will - and it will do so before the pundits in the west predict it will. (Here and here).

But for now we would do well to remember that it's not the poorest of the poor that can afford this thing - it's the middle class. Even Gandhian engineering cannot reach the poorest people in the world - that real unfortunate 14% of India...

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