Solar-Powered Tuk-Tuk Reaches UK After Road Trip From India | TheGuardian
An engineer and his solar-powered tuk-tuk have arrived in Britain at the end of a seven-month, 6,200-mile overland adventure – despite a last-minute mishap.
Naveen Rabelli, 35, who set off from India in February, reached Dover five days later than expected because of the theft of his passport and wallet in France.
After obtaining an emergency passport and crossing the Channel from Calais, Rabelli said of his epic journey: “It was fantastic up until I got to Paris where from there I got some things stolen and two battery packs died.
“The highlights have been the way people have helped me out along the way and supported me. People love the tuk-tuk, particularly in Iran and many other countries. They come forward and take selfies. And the moment I tell them it doesn’t require petrol, their minds are blown.”
Rabelli, who was born in India and became an Australian citizen while working as an automotive engineer there, hopes to end his journey at Buckingham Palace.
As he posed for pictures beside his tuk-tuk, he told how British border officers had made sure his vehicle was properly checked over. “Because I had been travelling for seven months and had an emergency passport, I had to take everything out,” he said.
His self-modified tuk-tuk is kitted it out with basic comforts including a bed, a seat for a co-passenger, a cupboard with food donated by people, and a solar-powered cooker.
Rabelli embarked on the adventure to raise awareness of electric and solar-powered vehicles as a sustainable low-cost alternative mode of transport.
He said the idea of converting a fuel-based tuk-tuk to renewable energy came about when he and a friend were stuck in traffic in India surrounded by noisy, polluting tuk-tuks.
He started his trip in India before his tuk-tuk was shipped to Bandar Abbas in Iran. His overland mission then began in earnest, he drove through Iran, Turkey, Bulgaria, Serbia, Austria, Switzerland, Germany and France.
Rabelli had to adjust to life on the road, including bathing in lakes, rivers and even at police stations, and relying largely on food handouts.
On one leg of his trip, in Iran, he found himself smoking horse dung after being told it was a good remedy for a sore throat.