Vehicles with three wheels are quite common in China, and they come in all different sizes. Some are quite small, like the car in this photo. The largest are truck-sized vehicles with flatbeds to haul various things. I doubt there is another country in the world that has vehicles of as many sizes and configurations as China. China’s multitude of vehicle types is made possible by the regulatory environment, demographic factors related to income, and the massive number of people living in genuine cities.
I guarantee that the little car in the photo doesn’t have an airbag, nor is it required to have one. However, small three-wheeled cars are not meant for highway use. The top speed of these little cars is usually no more than 30 mph (48 kph). Micro cars in China are used for getting around in the city in which one lives. In medium-sized Chinese cities, where micro cars are most popular, these diminutive cars often don’t even have to mix with mainstream auto traffic. Virtually all Chinese cities have wide bike lanes which these little cars often use.
China has millions and millions of people living on a relatively small amount of money. The absence of excessive, government-mandated safety standards allows vehicle manufacturers to provide consumers with a wider variety of transportation options within a wide range of price points. In China’s vibrant economy, Chinese entrepreneurs and companies target consumers of every income level, even when it comes to normally high-cost items such as cars. While the electric moped is by far the best selling form of transportation among those of modest income, the micro car industry is also doing well. Tiny cars are marketed at prices that those on the lower end of the middle class can usually afford.
For those living and working in a Chinese city, a trip to work or to the grocery store usually doesn’t involve traveling long distances. Small vehicles are ideal for everyday, short distance trips. While the car in the photo runs on gas, many of the micro cars in China run on batteries. Electric vehicles in China are very popular. In the city were I live, there are a number of businesses which sell electric vehicles.