60 cities in 60 days in a solar-powered auto

Meet this group that has travelled across 60 cities in 60 days on a solar-powered auto rickshaw

Many a hitch-hiker across the country has hopped on to this white auto rickshaw that is currently travelling across the country. “We picked up somebody along the way from Satara and dropped him in Pune. We also helped a couple whose car had broken down midway,” says Sushil Reddy, 30, who came up with the idea of a road trip in a tuk tuk. He is joined by Pallavi Siddhanta (27), Sudheer Lekkala (29) and Rutvick Arya (27) and together they have completed around 6,000 kilometres.

After making a pit stop in Chennai, they are now headed back to Bengaluru, where they started their journey from, on May 25. The 60-day trip covering as many cities is scheduled to end today. The team has covered Pune, Mumbai, Surat, Ahmedabad, Udaipur, Jaipur, Gurgaon, Delhi, Agra, Mathura, Lucknow, Kanpur, Benaras, Kolkata, Srikakulam, Visakhapatnam, Kakinada, Eluru, Vijaywada, Ongole, Nellore and Chennai among others.

Ray of hope

“Our project is called the Sun Pedal Ride. The idea is to spread awareness about solar energy,” says Sushil. Their auto rickshaw — provided by Volta Automotive, a Bengaluru-based company that manufactures and deals with green energy projects — is a solar-powered electric vehicle, with a solar panel fitted over head. The team believes there is relatively less noise pollution and it is more fuel efficient. “It is 50 paise per kilometre, while in other autos it’s four rupees per kilometre,” he adds. The battery in this auto is charged after every 120 kilometres. It takes four to five hours for it to be fully charged. Sushil and Sudheer both work in the solar sector, while Pallavi is a freelance communication and marketing professional and Rutvick is a software engineer.

For Sudheer, who is doing bulk of the driving, hitting the highways at a limited speed of 45 kilometre per hour gets frustrating sometimes. Given that an auto rickshaw is not the most comfortable vehicle, driving 150 kilometres a day takes a toll on his shoulders and back. “But I just listen to music and all of us make sure we keep ourselves hydrated with electrolyte water,” he smiles.

60 cities in 60 days in a solar-powered auto

While the trip sounds like fun, they have also had their share of challenges. The heat, being one. “We chose the summer months so we could utilise solar energy to the maximum,” says Sushil. The team has also fallen ill on many occassions. “Mostly stomach issues, considering we have been eating streetside food. Sometimes it’s the spicy local food that is the cause,” says Pallavi. “Then we quickly learnt that egg bhurji and roti are the safest to eat at most places,” says Rutvick.

Some of the accommodation they managed to get in few of the smaller towns and cities were far from luxurious. “We have seen flora and fauna of all kinds on our beds,” laughs Pallavi, adding, “So when we check into the Ibis hotels (the hospitality group is supporting this cause as part of their sustainability programme) in the bigger cities we know we are going to have a good night’s sleep.”

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Printable version | Feb 25, 2020 2:37:26 PM |

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