…and now that I’ve got your attention, I’d like to show you pictures of my newest obsession…
Meet the Tata Ace. As soon as I saw these in the street I couldn’t take my eyes off them — ain’t it wicked cunnin’? (That’s Maine for “CUUUUUUUUUTE!”) According to their Wikipedia page they are a recent innovation of Tata Motors (current owner of Jaguar and Rover among many auto brands) to “replace” the three-wheeled auto-rickshaws for hauling goods (below).
The Ace is built to meet the need for commercial hauling on what is known in the logistics biz as “the last mile” i.e. the space between a distributor/warehouse that receives things by big semi-trailer and truck, and the ultimate destination for goods (building site, retailer, etc.). They are the ubiquitous obviously commercial vehicle that I’ve seen all around me on the streets, so they must have succeeded. (And like any other successful product, they are profusely copied — most I see are Tata, but there are Mahindrah, Mitsubishi, Suzuki, and other versions.)
The scale of a US style pickup truck, for what the Ace does, would be out of place with other vehicles here, as well as with the streets, alleyways, and driveways I’ve seen. The Ace also isn’t really used for the same purpose as a pick-up is in the US: it’s more like a cross between a delivery van and a panel truck, but at a much reduced scale. There are vans on the streets but they seem to be filled with people, or so tiny they’re almost the same size as an auto-rickshaw, which feels airy by comparison. I saw large trucks on the highway on my way into the City, but I don’t see them on the city streets. The largest beasts amid the auto-rickshaws and cycles and autos in the streets are city buses and specialty vehicles like cement mixers, etc. Everything else is small scale.
Speaking of small scale, the Tata Ace is apparently powered by a two-cylinder(!) 16hp engine with a top speed of 60Kph. So Cute!