There is a world of vehicle designers, artists and modification experts working without much recognition under the mainstream media radar. Their fabrications may never land on the cover of Motor Trend magazine, even as they churn out custom fleets used at one time or another by most of the world’s population. In thirteen images, we will take a trip around the world visiting artistic trucks and creative transport built from salvaged tank scrap, wood, motorcycle mods and other parts and materials. These vehicles demonstrate the ingenuity born of extremely low budgets and an abundance of mechanical skill propelled by the innate human need to go places.
While reviewing this gallery, two points come to mind.
First, the frugal design of transportation vehicles meets local needs. Most of these vehicles were designed by enterprising local individuals and companies with little sophistication. Note that there were no BMWs, Fords, Teslas or any other multinational automotive manufacturers involved. The vehicles meet the people’s needs, and their owners have made a number of changes along the way to stay useful and keep their businesses afloat. Most of these vehicles are very affordable in the context and might not be as affordable if multinationals get involved.
Second, there is an opportunity for professional organizations like Engineers Without Borders (EWB), the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Special Interest Groups in Humanitarian Technology (IEEE SIGHT), members of Engineering for Change, etc. to get involved and improve designs. The Chukudu, for example, and others in the images below could use design tweaks to make them more efficient, lighter, easier to manufacture, less polluting, etc.
If you design a little affordable device that reduces pollution in jeepneys, you could put it in thousands of jeepneys, quickly scaling impact and cleaning the air.
When engineering groups work with communities, they work on energy projects, water and sanitation projects, etc., but seldom think about transportation systems. And yet, the transportation systems are critical to the local economies and can lead to scalable impacts. If you design a little affordable device that reduces pollution in jeepneys, and if you can get government policy support, you can have thousands of jeepneys use the devices leading to a sustainable business model and quickly scaled impact with cleaner air. An excellent example is Paul Hudnut’s venture Envirofit.
Now, let’s begin our tour of everyday transportation around the world.