Oops! We could not locate your form.Click to close
Raoul Kopacka, a 26-year old Austrian, sits along with Naveen Rabelli (unseen) from India, inside a tuk-tuk in the southern Indian city of Bangalore on July 9, 2014. — Reuters pic
Adjust Font Size:
NAVEEN Rabelli’s tuk-tuk broke down the first time he rolled it out of his garage. The electrical engineer didn’t lose heart. Now, he plans to drive his customised three-wheeler all the way to London.
Rabelli will leave India next year on a 9,600-km (6,000-mile) odyssey through 10 countries to promote the idea of environmentally friendly travel. His tuk-tuk, or auto rickshaw, is powered entirely by electricity and solar power.
“What better way is there to travel? The tuk-tuk is an Indian icon and this vehicle does not pollute the air in any way,” Rabelli, 33, told Reuters as he rode alongside a lake in the southern Indian city of Bangalore.
Equipped with a new motor, battery and gearbox, the bright red vehicle — named Tejas, a Sanskrit word meaning splendour or brilliance — now bears little resemblance to the sputtering, diesel-fuelled three-wheelers ubiquitous on India’s roads.
A tonne when fully loaded, it weighs double a normal auto rickshaw. Its roof is made entirely from solar panels and cloth drapes protect its open sides from the elements.
Eight hours of battery charge will carry the tuk-tuk fewer than 50 miles, while five hours’ exposure to the sun will allow Tejas to push on for another 16 miles. That’s a lot of recharging stops on the road to London.
The project has already cost Rabelli his life savings of about US$6,000 (RM19,000). Before he leaves, he needs to raise more cash to reinforce the tuk-tuk’s rickety flooring and to buy a lithium-ion battery to replace the old lead-acid power source.
He says, however, that his vehicle is more economical than a typical auto rickshaw: the solar-electric variant can run 100km on less than a dollar, while a tuk-tuk running on diesel would require about US$4 to go the same distance.
Rabelli plans to ride his tuk-tuk from Bangalore to Mumbai, before putting it on a boat to Iran.
Rabelli said he chose Kopacka, who plans to film a documentary of the journey, over other applicants because the 26-year-old Austrian is just short enough to lie down full-length in the back of the vehicle.
29 Aug 2015, 12:08PM
25 Aug 2015, 07:08PM
21 Aug 2015, 02:08PM
18 Aug 2015, 01:08PM
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak delivering his speech on 'Leadership in Challenging Times' at the 25th Tunku Abdul Rahman Lecture, organised by the Malaysian Institute of Management in Kuala Lumpur on Aug 20, 2015.