May 11, 2017 / 2:08 PM / in 7 months

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

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.

A worker sprays paint on the body of the new "Mini-Car-Egypt" car in a workshop, near Egypt's pyramids of Giza, in Kerdasa, Egypt May 10, 2017. Picture taken May 10, 2017. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

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 175cc engine, while Omar’s mini car costs 34,000 pounds and has 300cc engine.

Workers are seen near the main body of new "Mini-Car-Egypt" car in a workshop, near Egypt's pyramids of Giza, in Kerdasa, Egypt May 10, 2017. Picture taken May 10, 2017. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

“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 neighbourhoods with narrow alleyways, and are mostly imported from India.

A worker welds the main chassis of new "Mini-Car-Egypt" car in a workshop, near Egypt's pyramids of Giza, in Kerdasa, Egypt May 10, 2017. Picture taken May 10, 2017. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

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.”

($1 = 18.0500 Egyptian pounds)

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

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