May 11, 2017 / 1:43 PM / 3 months ago

Egypt's auto rickshaw gets a new, home-grown challenger

A worker makes a test for new "Mini-Car-Egypt" car in s workshop, near Egypt's pyramids of Giza, in Kerdasa, Egypt May 10, 2017.Amr Abdallah Dalsh

CAIRO (Reuters) - In his workshop near Cairo's pyramids, Ahmed Saeed Omar has manufactured a mini four-wheeled vehicle that he hopes will fill a gap in the market.

Omar's "mini car", a rectangular vehicle made of a solid steel body which seats up to six people, is cheaper than the widely-used imported auto rickshaw -- not much more than a covered three-wheel scooter with a passenger bench -- because it is almost entirely locally produced.

Prices of imported products have soared since Egypt devalued its currency in November as part of measures to stimulate the economy.

A rickshaw can cost around 38,000 Egyptian pounds ($2,105)and has a 175 horse-power engine, while Omar's mini car costs 34,000 pounds and has 300 horse-power engine.

"This is a better alternative to the (rickshaw), more cost-efficient and more spacious," Omar, 35, told Reuters.

Three-wheeled rickshaws are widespread in many Egyptian cities, usually in neighborhoods with narrow alleyways, and are mostly imported from India.

Since the cost of imports has soared, Omar thinks there may be market for his design.

"The cars are in some showrooms and people have bought them," he said. "There is demand."

Reporting by Amr Abdallah Dalsh; Writing by Nadine Awadalla Editing by Jeremy Gaunt

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