Naveen Rabelli is on his way from India to Britain. In a tuk tuk, or autorickshaw. The vehicle is solar powered and will cover the journey of 10,000 kms, through 10 countries, over a period of four months. What’s more, the tuk tuk was designed and developed by Naveen himself, with the help of some mechanic friends.
Naveen started the journey in Kochi, travelled through Bangalore and Mumbai, and has now reached Dubai.
Pic Source: Facebook
Now, from Bandar Abbas, Rabelli will drive his tuk tuk to the Iranian cities of Shiraz, Isfahan and Tehran, before making his way to the Iranian-Turkish border.
So what made this 35-year-old engineer take on an odyssey of epic proportions, in a vehicle that is mostly known for the bumpy rides it provides commuters on crowded Indian roads?
Naveen’s motivation comes from a desire to spread awareness about alternative and clean energy sources by driving a solar and electric-powered tuk tuk.
Pic source: Facebook
“I was in India, and there are too many tuk tuks that are polluting, and not much was being done to them. That’s where the idea came from,” he told Khaleej Times, a Dubai based publication.
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Naveen started tinkering around with a second-hand tuk tuk about three years ago, after quitting his job with Mahindra & Mahindra.
Pic Source: ecofriend.org
Equipped with a new motor, battery and gearbox, the solar tuk tuk – named Tejas – now looks nothing like the sputtering three-wheeler he started working with.
Naveen’s vehicle weighs double a normal auto rickshaw. The roof is made of solar panels and there are cloth drapes around it to protect the open sides from the elements.
The tuk tuk is a modified Piaggio Ape; it can travel up to 100 km per charge and can be charged from existing electrical grids in addition to through its solar panels. The solar tuk tuk will consume about 30% of its electricity from the sun, the rest will be powered by electricity stored in the batteries.
The total cost of the trip – including a documentary to be made by his road companion, Austrian Raoul Kopacka, is approximately $40,000. This also includes travel expenses, vehicle logistics, permits, visas, etc.
Watch Naveen speak of his tuk tuk in this video: