By Justin Harper, 23 Oct 2012, Via telegraph.co.uk
British husband-and-wife team hope their bamboo tricycle will ease traffic problems in China’s car-clogged cities.
A British expat couple in Shanghai are hoping to start a revolution in China with their bamboo-made tricycles.
Chris Trees and his wife Florence have developed a modern electric-powered tricycle built from a combination of bamboo and steel. The Treecycle can seat up the three people and costs in the region of 40,000 yuan (£4,000).
The couple, who have lived in Shanghai for five years, are hoping to ease traffic congestion and pollution in Chinese cities with their invention which is proving a big hit, mainly among expats.
Chinese people still associate tricycles with poverty and hard work, an attitude the pair are hoping to change.
Mr Trees, 51, gave up a career in advertising to focus on the new business venture. He said: “The main motivation behind the Treecycle was to try to take action to reverse or at least slow the headlong rush to car ownership that we are witnessing in China. We have always been passionate about cycling as the best machine ever invented by man is the bicycle.”
He hopes his eye-catching tricycle will eventually catch on with Chinese, as they grow more frustrated by traffic, parking and pollution problems in line with booming car sales.
He added: “Some measure of our success is that when we ride in downtown Shanghai, it is not uncommon for drivers of Porsches and Bentleys to wind down their windows and say what a cool vehicle we are riding.”
While changing people’s mindset is a challenge, the biggest problems the Trees face is securing financing and licensing for their three-wheeled machine, which can travel for 110 kilometres without changing the battery.
The Treecycle was born out of a wedding present the couple gave to a work colleague. They bought a second-hand tricycle, decorated it in red and gold and gave it to the bride and groom.
Afterwards, the Trees set about designing a new tricycle that they hoped would appeal to the local population. Chris added: “I knew I would have to produce a new design that would be attractive, luxurious, with high-end bike technology, to really ‘wow’ the new rich in Shanghai. So the Treecycle was born.”
The transport borrows some technology from the modern automobile, including speed control, windscreens, solar-powered lights and brakes. Its body is made from lightweight steel while the large canopy is built from bamboo.