Hyderabad engineer travels 14,200 Kms. from Bengaluru to London on an auto rickshaw

Naveen Rabelli took 7 months to achieve the task.

Naveen Rabelli at BBC, London
Naveen Rabelli at BBC, London

Naveen Rabelli, a 35-year-old electrical engineer from Hyderabad, has completed a heroic journey from Bengaluru to London, covering about 14,200 kilometers in an auto rickshaw to propagate the idea of green energy.

The mission named Tejas took seven months to reach the destination, on Friday. Rabelli traveled all the way through Iran, Turkey, Bulgaria, Serbia, Austria, Switzerland, Germany and France before reaching London.

Going on a road trip to London was a childhood dream of Rabelli. He started thinking of doing the trip when he was working with electric car manufacturer Reva in Bengaluru. The idea of using a tuk-tuk struck his mind while he was stranded in a traffic block in Bengaluru in 2012.

“The autos stuck in the gridlock caught my attention. Soon, I started hunting for a second-hand three-wheeler till I found a blue Ape Piaggio cargo autorickshaw in Yeshwantpur. I paid the dealer Rs 64,000 for the 2006 model,” Rabelli was quoted as saying by The Times of India.

Rabelli created a website for the mission, did some crowd funding and some companies came forward to help him.

He had bought two auto rickshaws earlier but used the last one purchased from Yeshwantpur for the journey.

Rabelli converted the diesel engine of the auto into an electric motor powered by a nine-kilowatt hour battery. The vehicle was also fitted with a solar panel that could be used if there was no electricity charging facility.

“I painted it red and optimized the cargo space in the auto by building a bed, a bench, lights, fans and solar cooker,” Rabelli said.

His master’s in electronic engineering from Australia’s RMIT University and his experience with Reva helped him convert the auto. He spent about $12,000 for the conversion of three vehicles.

Apart from spreading the message of renewable energy, Rabelli wanted to connect with people who were working towards sustainable solutions and to provide specific information to consumers about converting their fuel vehicle into electric.

Rabelli faced several setbacks before and during the epic journey. When he was about to start his journey in August 2015, he met with an accident in Bengaluru which left him bedridden till December.

After recovering from the accident, Rabelli started his journey on February 8, 2016, from Kundalahalli gate, Bengaluru. He headed directly to Mumbai and shipped the auto to Bander Abbas port in Iran. From there started riding all the way to London through different countries.

While Rabelli was in Paris, his bag containing his passport, cash, and some important travel documents was robbed and he had to stop the ride for a few days. As he had an Australian passport, the Australian embassy in Paris issues him travel documents for further journey.

Despite some difficult experiences he faced, Rabelli said the love and affection of the people he met throughout the journey were the biggest gains from the ride.

“It is the love and affection of people I met on the way that is my biggest takeaway from the trip,” said Rabelli, who will start his ride back to India in a few days.

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