Naveen Rabelli finally made it. The automotive engineer just arrived in the United Kingdom, having traveled to Dover all the way from India with his colorful solar-electric automotive rickshaw -- also known as a tuk tuk.
A week ago his arrival was anything but assured when his wallet and passport were stolen from the zero-emissions vehicle during a break in France.
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Four years ago Rabelli and a friend were in India stuck in traffic, surrounded by polluting tuk tuks. The automotive engineer, who was born in India and has Australian citizenship, decided to do something. He began converting a Piaggio Ape diesel three-wheeler auto-rickshaw into one that runs on renewable energy. The converted vehicle can go nearly 25 mph, gets about 53 miles per charge, and has a 1,100-pound load. It also sports a bed and solar cooker.
Rabelli dubbed the solar-electric prototype "Tuk Tuk-Tejas" after the Sanskrit word for radiance. Several months ago, the 35-year-old set out from Bangalore in it. After he traveled across India, the tuk tuk was shipped to Iran. Rabelli then drove it through Turkey, Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia, Hungary, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, and France with a plan to arrive in the UK on September 7.
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