Solar Tuk Tuk

  • 2019

  • Social Impact

Designed By:

  • Unbound
  • RMIT University

Commissioned By:


Designed In:


The Solar Tuk Tuk is an innovative design and outreach initiative to promote sustainable transport through the construction of a sun-powered, three wheel tuk tuk that could travel the length of Australia to showcase a renewable future. Inspiring the future of low-carbon mobility on three wheels and zero emissions.

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  • In Australia, over 99% of vehicles sold are powered by fossil fuels. The most common reasons cited to not use electric vehicles are (1) cost, and (2) concerns about range. The Solar Tuk Tuk project is an innovative program to address these issues head on. This challenge was to show the public that the most unlikely vehicle - a solar-powered, three-wheeled tuk tuk - can go the distance. The vehicle faced significant design challenges - needing to be compliant with Australian road rules and registration. As this is an outreach program, the vehicle had to be designed to attract maximum interest.

  • Our design was the construction of a solar-powered vehicle based on a Thai-built tuk tuk. This vehicle was selected to its fun and attention-grabbing design, aiming to make topics such as electric vehicles, renewable energy and climate change accessible to a wide audience. Installation of solar panels, long-range batteries were essential for the vehicle design. The project aimed to capture media and people's attention so a long-range expedition was created: Melbourne to the Great Barrier Reef - this allowed us to do outreach, media, and policy visits across the country and reach a wide audience.

  • This project has had enormous reach sharing the positive benefits of sustainable transport and electric vehicles through media and direct engagement. The Solar Tuk Tuk project has been featured as news on TV ~ 10 appearances (local, state and national); 10+ radio; and dozens of print and online articles. Outreach and educational talks with school and community groups reached hundreds of people who were actively interested and engaged in the topic. The demonstration of the technology has also been widely shared, with councils and other government groups interested in the Solar Tuk Tuk as a case-study in renewable mobility.

  • The Solar Tuk Tuk was a unique vehicle that captured attention, and formed the perfect vehicle for outreach and education. Key features included: > Focus on topics of key national interest - renewable energy and climate change > Approachable and fun design - rather than fact-based or fear-based communication > A local story, nationally - by travelling the length of the country we were able to directly and through the media be a local story repeatedly > Partnership with leading organisations for reach and funding including the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade; Australian Geographic Society and RMIT University > Education in design - we partnered with RMIT University to engage student designers and engineers in the process, aiming to have impact in the creation of the vehicle, in addition to on completion > Volunteer-led - this social impact project was a not-for-profit initiative and engaged exceptional sustainability leaders to complete the journey Some technological design features included: > Installation of a second-hand Tesla battery increasing the range from 80km to 300km per charge > Light-weight solar panel installation including side and rear pop-up panels for when parked > Modifications for expedition - including safety lighting, long distance comfort, and improve ruggedness.