If you were going on a 6,200-mile road trip with a friend, you probably wouldn’t select a vehicle with a top speed of 25 mph. And you’d probably search for something with a lot of elbow and leg room. But Naveen Rabelli isn’t your average road tripper.
He’s devoted to sustainable living and wants to raise awareness for the potential of solar-powered vehicles. Rabelli plans to drive his tuk-tuk, a motorized rickshaw, to London. For an estimated 100 days, Rabelli and a companion will be locked in a very cozy passenger cabin.
“It will be quite challenging for both of us to fit in this tuk-tuk and to travel 10,000 kilometers, but I think that’s a whole part of the journey to understand the problems and make flexible solutions,” Rabelli explained in a video promoting his trip.
Raoul Kopacka was selected as his partner in part because his short stature makes it possible to sleep in the rear of the tuk-tuk.
Rabelli told Reuters he spent two years and his life savings of $6,000 to make the tuk-tuk — which is draped in solar panels — a reality. Its battery can go 53 miles on a single charge. He’s calling the solar-paneled tuk-tuk Tejas, after the Sanskrit word for radiance.
Following a drive to Mumbai, the adventurers will hop a boat ride to Iran and then make stops in Turkey, Austria, Germany and other countries on their way to London.
“During my test drives in Bangalore I’ve had a really positive experience, positive feedback from all the people that I met,” Rabelli said. That’s the first mindblock that we need to address, to clear up that a solar powered cannot run as efficiently as conventional fuel vehicle. That’s what we’re going to do.”
Rabelli started the project after the idea came to him while en route to a kite festival.
“I was stuck up in traffic. And we noticed an empty number of tuk-tuks that make loud noises. And just a thought came out — can we convert this tuk-tuk into solar or electric? We just went straight back to the bar and started doing some sketches,” he said.