Loud, dirty, small and often fun, tuk tuks are used by millions of people around the world for their daily commute and for tourist joy rides.
What they are not known for is being part of a sustainable transport future, or the vehicle of choice for a long-distance expedition. Until now.
Created by engineering students and educational professionals at RMIT, the tuk tuk is on a journey around the world starting with a 3000km plus trip south to north of Australia, including Byron Bay. This is a world-first journey across the Australian continent by a solar electric tuk tuk. The crew then aim to complete a lap of planet earth, circumnavigating the globe powered by the sun.
The vehicle, a second-hand Thai-made vehicle from the Tuk Tuk Factory in Bangkok, Thailand, was upgraded including the addition of a photovoltaic solar system – from the engineering team at RMIT University in Melbourne.
‘You wouldn’t think of a tuk tuk as being part of a sustainable transport future or a vehicle of choice for a long distance expedition,’ says expedition leader, Julian O’Shea. ‘Until now.’
Locally the team will be hosted by Zero Emissions Byron. ‘Our mission is to engage and inspire communities, businesses and individuals to take action for positive change and accelerate the move towards a sustainable, electric and low-carbon future,’ says Julian.
‘As well as travelling through Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra and Brisbane, we are stopping over in any solar-friendly neighbourhoods, such as Byron.’
The Tuk Tuk is a standard vehicle that seats a driver and four passengers, it weighs 900kg, can get up to 50kph and gets about 300 km per charge.
Chair of Zero Emissions Byron Limited Vicki Brooke says they are organising a Solar Tour de Byron so the solar tuk-tuk can drive through the community, with local electric bikes and vehicles supporting its mission. ‘The tour is starting at Habitat in the Byron Arts & Industrial Estate,’ she said.
‘Sustainable transport is a key component in the Zero Emissions Byron aim of reducing Byron Shire’s carbon emissions to zero by 2025 in the areas of Transport, Land Use, Energy, Waste and Buildings. Anything that supports our goal, such as this three-wheel no-emissions tuk tuk, is a great inspiration.’
The tuk tuk will be in Byron on Thursday at around noon.
For more information about the Great Solar Tour de Byron, visit: www.zerobyron.org.