Words by Niky Tamayo | Photos by Christopher Kho
Perhaps one of the most unusual displays at the 4th Philippine International Motor Show (PIMS) is the Ape three-wheeler. It’s aptly named, as there is something monkey-ish about the thing. A product of Piaggio, the Ape was designed in Italy specifically for the Indian market. Being a Piaggio product, it obviously shares some architecture with the famed scooter line that spawned the Vespa, with a scooter front end mated to a robust swing axle rear. It’s available in a variety of forms, from dropside to closed van to auto-rickshaw. While most people wouldn’t get up in a blather over a motorcycle-based three-wheel delivery vehicle, given the ready availability of local and Chinese conversions, the APE has something these two-stroke wonders don’t: A diesel engine.
Maybe it’s not the most appealing of cars, with its cramped cabin and scooter-based controls. Rear swing axles won’t inspire confidence, either, for anyone familiar with old VW Beetles. But this is not a sports car. It’s a low speed urban delivery vehicle built specifically for business. And it costs less than a Segway.