A South African couple are to undertake a 50,000km around-the-world trip in a bid to set world records for solar electric endurance and to promote sustainable forms of transportation. Karl van Zyl and Santie du Toit will spend around 18 months travelling in an electric tuk-tuk custom-built by Norwegian Technology Startup, Infinite Mobility.
Tuk-tuks – also known as auto-rickshaws – are light three-wheelers commonly used to transport people around many Asian cities.
The majority are diesel powered, but van Zyl and du Toit have commissioned an electric version from Infinite, which features almost 4.6 square metres of solar panels across its roof, back and sides. The firm reckons this is good for about 33km a day.
“We need to go beyond the boundaries of sustainable mobility and find new and innovative ways to help people travel in the future,” said van Zyl.
Infinite co-founder, Lupi Love, added. “Even though our product is designed for the last-mile mobility, its potential goes beyond the urban environment.
“This adventure will help us collect performance data of our vehicle under this extreme endurance race. The analysis of the data will serve in design enhancement of the next generation of our product. We are fully supporting Karl and his wife Santie in this adventure.”
The 400kg vehicle will also be fitted with a wind turbine for when the couple are camping at night.
“Space will be very limited and the pace slow, but we don’t mind that,” say van Zyl and du Toit on their website. “Years of motorcycle touring has taught us to get by with minimum levels of creature comforts.”
The plan had been to depart Manila in the Philippines on April 1 (maybe not the best choice of start day). However, due to current border restrictions they have been forced to postpone. Writing on Facebook, they now say they are, “planning to get on the road as soon as the Covid-19 border closures ease.”
Their route will see them drive across Asia, down through Africa and up South, Central and North America before finally crossing the US to end in Times Square in New York.
“The mission will be to elevate people’s consideration of the environment and to take the more environmentally conscious option,” they say. “We want to encourage people to think outside the box when planning their next trip.
“By taking a mode of transport that seems unusual, travelling roads less-travelled and visiting sights that are not foremost in peoples’ travel planning, we want to inspire the love of exploration and discovery in a green and eco-friendly way.”