While in Cuba we had to take a ride on a home grown peculiar vehicle known as a Coco taxi. They are named this as they alleged look like half a coconut. They look vaguely egg shaped to me but “sort of egg shaped taxi” does not exactly roll of the tongue like Coco taxi does. These are a rickshaw type vehicle that are meant to offer a more economical taxi service as well as a bit of a tourist draw.
These little three wheelers are quite popular in tourist towns and despite similar colouring are not owned by a central company but rather by enterprising individuals who set their own rates. The costs are in theory lower but pricing in practice seemed to be a bit randomly calculated.
The body shell is fiberglass with a scooter derived drive train. The online resources say they have optional pedals but we did not notice any. Many, if not all, had a distinct two stroke sound to them. They are varied a bit with either two or three seats behind the driver as well as details like wheels and mirrors but the body shells appeared to be all the same from what we saw.
Both the UK and Canadian governments due not recommend travel in these Coco taxis due to their poor safety record so we choose to take our ride in the more relaxed atmosphere of Varadero rather than Havana. The hard seats were not very comfortable and the ride was a little choppy. The engine was a rather noisy unit and my butt dyno seemed to indicate 50km/h or 30 mph was about maximum speed.
These Coco taxis apparently originated in Havana when the tourist trade was re-launched in the 1990s. Yellow was to indicate that it was for use by tourists while black or blue was for locals only. We only saw the yellow ones as I suspect there is no local only designation anymore with recent governmental reforms.
Despite it being rather loud we enjoyed our ride in a Coco taxi as it was an almost convertible car or motorcycle feeling with being out in the wind. I was glad to sample a locally produced Cuban automotive product as well as we missed out on the locally produced Giron buses.
CC Taxi Ride: Re-powered Citroen Traction Avant in Havana, Cuba
CC Taxi Ride: The Other Russian – Moskvitch 2140 in Havana Cuba
Not being all that familiar with three-wheel conveyances, I’d rank those I’m familiar with from best to worst: Morgan > Polaris Slingshot > Elio > Bond Bug > Reliant Robin > Messerschmitt > Dale. I’d peg the Cuban Coconut just behind the Robin as that one at least completely envelopes you as in a closed body, and also fits in amongst its four-wheeled surroundings a bit better.
Safer than a Messerschmitt is not exactly a ringing endorsement for safety. Being taller than a Messerschmitt would be a major benefit in traffic.
I believe the reverse trike layout of most Morgans is much more stable than the traditional trike layout. More steering and primary braking wheels.
A Renault 4CV photoboming in the last picture. It looks like it may well have been converted to a front engine with RWD.
I suspect so. We saw a couple others that had been converted as well. The green one had a bit of a Austin A40 Devon vibe to it at least from the front with the grill modification.
Another variation of the theme. I would have thought a Fiat 126p would have made a decent donor as there are plenty of them running around but perhaps a rwd Lada or whatever is a cheaper donor.
I’ve enjoyed all of these post from Cuba.
Out of curiosity, I looked up the Canadian government’s official advice on Coco-taxis, and it’s not terribly detailed:
“Three-wheeled yellow Coco taxis are unsafe.”
Well, thanks for taking the risk and reporting on this – it’s an interesting vehicle. I wonder if these coco’s are used exclusively by tourists – it seems tourist-oriented, but I’m curious if the non-tourist versions either never caught on among locals, or at some point if the government mandated that they should be reserved for the tourism trade? Also it’s interesting that the drivers appear to wear helmets, whereas the passengers don’t.
I probably have a year’s worth of Cuba material. Only one more taxi post though.
They appeared to be aimed at tourists but no reason a local could not take one. That said I think locals looking for a cheap fare used the bicycle based taxis.
No way I’d put on a communal helmet on there. The driver is in it all day long so his risk factor is much higher is how I rationalized it.
Eek – no, I’d never dream of wearing a communal helmet for a taxi! I just thought it somewhat amusing to see a helmeted driver but unhelmeted passengers.
A neat little vehicle I never heard of before .
The video makes it sound like the wind is the primary noise .
BEHOLD ! the modern Tuk-Tuk .
Reminds me of the Indian/south Asian 3 wheelers – a great value way of getting around Mumbai if it’s not monsoon
Reminds me of a bullpen cart
I can only guess that it must be way cheaper to spit out those fiberglass egg-shaped bodies and bolt up some kind of rudimentary suspension and 2-stroke engine, than it is to convert a much safer (and probably a whole lot sturdier) 4-stroke golf cart for street use with some sort of basic top to keep the sun off. Maybe the Coco taxis enjoy the same kind of motorcycle loophole that three-wheelers enjoy in the US.
Still, at some point, you’d think that the fiberglass would just begin disintegrating beyond repair.
Good stuff, never seen one when I was in Cuba but we weren’t in any big cities.
Looks like a fun trip for Dad and Lad
in the Brit`s way we call `em rikshaws , so popular in Cuba, India, Phillipines, Peru , etc etc etc . If economics`crisis keeps the arise of big inflation … early or later these vehicles will be also available in London as a cheap alternative for taxicabs