Monday, June 10, 2013

Auto to take its place in the London sun

Naveen Rabelli, with his solar-electric powered auto (Tejas The Solar Tuk Tuk), in Bangalore on Sunday. Photo: Special Arrangement
Naveen Rabelli plans to drive his hybrid vehicle there
If you live around Whitefield and have seen a blue autorickshaw with solar panels zip past your neighbourhood, then, you have seen what autorickshaws in the future could look like.
“The auto is one mode of transport that is used extensively, and if it can be modified in a way that it uses more renewable energy at an affordable price, we can have a smaller carbon footprint,” says Naveen Rabelli, the brains behind the project ‘Tejas: the solar tuk tuk’.
Now, Mr. Rabelli plans to drive his ‘green’ auto to London. He hopes to cover the 8,000-km journey in 90 days, beginning his trip in August. He plans to drive from Bangalore to Mumbai, from where the vehicle will be shipped to Iran. He will then drive it to France, from where it will again be shipped to the United Kingdom, for a final drive to London.
Mr. Rabelli began tinkering on his ‘tuk tuk’ in March 2012. A former employee with the Bangalore-based Reva Electric Car Company, he nurtured a vision of a mode of transport that used clean and renewable energy. Since August 2012, he has been working on his dream project full-time.
“People often think that sustainable and green energy is far away, but I want to make them aware that it is very much a reality,” he says.
Under the hood
The auto, which is now doing dry-runs across Bangalore, runs on both solar energy and electricity. When charged for eight hours, it can travel 80 km. With eight hours of exposure to the sun, it can run 25 km.
“It is fitted with a computer that keeps track of the temperature of the vehicle, energy generated, and other performance-related data, which we can later analyse,” Mr. Rabelli says.
He expects the project, which has already cost him $ 6,000 (around Rs. 3.4 lakh), to be a study of the hybrid auto. “I plan to publish a paper or at least share my mistakes and learning online so that people can work with the data I have already collected.”
He hopes his design and technology can be replicated in other vehicles.
The auto, which recently made a 40-km trip with a payload of 250 kg, is financially viable too: it costs about Rs. 40 per 100-km run.
Joint effort
Mr. Rabelli requires another $ 2,000 to fund his travel. So far, three companies have come forward to support Team Tejas, with a motor for the auto, flexible panels and chargers.
His team includes mechanics Mehaboob Basha and L. Moula of MI Garage, Santosh Kumar of SS Fabricators, the body fabricator, as well as Keshava of Paramount Engineering.