You can see the car on the road round 0:50
Nilanga Senevirathne of Kalubowila (represent) has built a seemingly functional electric car, in Sri Lanka. You can see it on the road in the video above. It looks a bit like a cow-catcher, but I think it’s because the machine also harnesses wind. He seems ready to put the car into production, which is really quite cool. This from a Sunday Times report:
Over a cup of tea he told the BT that the average 4-seat cars that are available in Sri Lanka would cost around Rs 1.4 million but his Elca electric-turbo car when it is marketed would cost only half the price at Rs 0.7 million and the cost per kilometer would be around Rs 3 whereas the conventional 4-seat cars running cost per km would be around Rs 11. (Unique electric-turbo car designed by Lankan youth)
As per a recent Foreign Policy article, car ownership is good indicator of who’s in the middle class, and who’s not.
Cars are big-ticket items that indicate the ability and willingness to purchase many other nonessential goods. Indeed, while the vast majority of households own a car in advanced countries, in developing countries owning a car symbolizes relative affluence. While one can define the middle class in many ways, car ownership is an unambiguous indication of the ability to purchase other luxury goods. (The Global Middle Class Is Bigger Than We Thought
Previously, I’ve discussed the relationship between cars and class in Sri Lanka. In Sri Lanka we’re in a unique position because we’re much smaller than, say, India or China. We can’t (or don’t) really manufacture vehicles at a rate that can supply internal demand so we end up importing them, and the petrol to supply them. In order to keep our balance of payments stable, there are heavy taxes on both cars and petrol, thus restricting access to the middle class. Even so, both vehicle ownership and petrol consumption have doubled post-war. I don’t know how, but Sri Lankans are buying into the middle class.
And To Return
That said, there’s still a significant market opening for local cars. I’m not even saying this is a good idea, but firms like Micro have done well assembling cars here and avoiding some of the tax. What this young man (26) Nilanga seems to be doing, however, is something else. He’s actually invented and built a car, from mostly local materials. And the intellectual property, as it is, is local as well. So, besides the batteries he’s importing (which I think he also wants to build here) he wouldn’t face that much tax at all and could sell a cheaper vehicle. And it runs on electricity which – our oil burning power supply notwithstanding – is still a good thing.
So anyways, good on him. I can’t see myself driving one, but it would make a great cab. Since 75% of cheap Indian Nanos are bought as cabs, that’s a market opening right there.