Solar-powered electric tuk tuk hits road for 3000km drive to Cairns | The Driven
Solar tuk tuk

Australian-based plans to circumnavigate the globe in an electric, solar-powered tuk tuk kick off this weekend, with a three-week, 3,000km road-trip from Melbourne to Cairns, starting Saturday November 24 and ending December 18.

The adventure is part of a grass-roots effort to promote sustainable transport and a low-carbon future, led by a team of engineering and education professionals.

Initially, the project was the brainchild of Westpac Social Change Fellow Julian O’Shea and Arup renewable energy engineer Jack Clarke as a way to highlight the impact of GHG emissions from transport.

However it has now morphed into a multidisciplinary team involving many sectors of society and business including RMIT, Arup, Diamond Energy, Australian Geographic Society, Australian Electric Vehicle Association, 350 Australia, Solar Citizens and many more.

That team has spent the better part of the past 12 months working closely with RMIT final year engineering students to retro-fit a Thai-built petrol tuk tuk to EV drive, plus fit solar panels to the roof to assist in recharging its batteries as it drives.

The first part of their planned adventures is a three-week trip driving from Melbourne to Cairns, travelling through the major cities of Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Canberra and Townsville, as well as some of Australia’s most beautiful regions.

The solar tuk tuk team plans to talk to community groups, politicians, schools and anybody else who cares to listen to their message.

If you are interested in seeing the vehicle take off on its first leg: the team are inviting all comers to the Solar Tuk Kick Off and BBQ, starting at 10am on Saturday 24 November in RMIT’s A’Beckett Square. (Off A’Becket Street, Melbourne).

To follow their travels (or get the adventurers talk to your community group, school, etcetera somewhere along its path) visit either their website ( or their facebook page (

By the way: this is only the first (and shortest) part of their planned adventure. The second part involves a 30,000km global circumnavigation starting and ending in Melbourne, beginning early 2019!

For the technically minded – the basic specs of the tuk tuk are as follows:

Originally Manufactured: Bangkok, Thailand

Capacity: 1 Driver + 4 Passengers

Speed: 50 km/hour

Weight: 900 kg

Length: 3.98 m

Motor: 7 kW

Range: approximately 300 km per charge

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