This solar-powered TukTuk will radically improve urban mobility
Article originally appeared at Aurora Sustainability.
Using the earth’s most abundant resource – solar energy – these solar powered tricycles will reduce traffic congestion, air pollution and carbon emissions.
If you look at any major city around the world, traffic congestion and air pollution are two of the biggest challenges they face. Urban travel accounts for more than half the traffic in the cities. Finding a solution to this problem was how Norwegian company Infinite Mobility came up with the idea for a light-weight tricycle powered by solar energy.
With almost 4.6 meters square of solar panels added to the roof, the back and the side of the tricycle, the hassle of being stuck in traffic is now an opportunity to freely charge the tricycle’s batteries. Their solar TukTuk is urban adapted, quiet and safe, making it the ideal solution for travelling around congested cities. And being fully enclosed, you can travel in any weather conditions.
We caught up with one of the co-founders, Lupi Love, to find out more about their game-changing product.
Where did the idea of a solar electric tricycle come from?
It was the result of a brainstorming effort with my co-founders. We have been looking for a solution for micro-mobility that is safe, provides protection from weather conditions, affordable, visually appealing, lightweight and run by renewable energies. What else can it be? Our product matches all these criteria.
Tell us about yourself and the company. How did you end up on this journey?
The founders are behind the idea. I have a 15+ years’ experience in various roles in supply chain management in the industrial manufacturing sector. In my professional career, I witnessed how many greenhouse gas emissions result from transporting people and goods.
We need to rethink how we move. We need innovation that is environmentally friendly without compromising on comfort.
What will the production process look like and where will it be located?
Our manufacturing process is very decentralised – we try to locate the assembly line as close as possible to the location of use of the vehicle. We are already in the process of establishing two manufacturing units – one in the Philippines to serve the Asian market and one in Tunisia to serve the European market. In Oslo, the engineering, marketing and procurement is centralised. By creating small assembly units close to the market, we will have more flexibility in adapting the methods and products to the local conditions.
Have already you tested the prototype?
We finalised the phase of design validation by simulation tools and now we are building the first prototype. It will be tested in mid-December 2020.
When will the TukTuk be available for testing in Norway?
The TukTuk will be available for display in Norway in mid-February 2021. Aurora will be one of the first ones to have a look at it of course :)
What are the biggest advantages of being the first company manufacturing solar tricycles?
First-mover advantage will position us to take large market share and will keep us ahead of the competition.
What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced as a brand/product in the sustainable space?
Customer acquisition and brand awareness are costly and time-consuming.
Is the company facing any challenges due to the pandemic?
The pandemic is working in our favour. Digital exhibitions and matchmaking events are either free or at a discounted price. It is now a lot easier to find talented human resources to work with us. And finally, our suppliers have extra capacity to meet our specific requirements.
What do you find most challenging about launching a sustainable product?
Like any new startup, we are looking for co-investors to speed up the implementation of our plan (if any investor is reading this, and wants to be part of this exciting adventure, we will be happy if they reach out to us). Finding green suppliers is another challenge. Pricing of sustainable parts is usually more expensive than standard components. Without the proper incentives, the competition with conventional fossil fuel products will be unfair.
What does the future look like for Infinite Mobility?
We plan to enter the market with our TukTuk in 2021. From there we intend to expand internationally by teaming up with local entrepreneurs and investors in a form of franchise. When we consolidate the quality and supply of the tricycle, we intend to develop other products such as four-wheeler solar cars and electric motorcycles.
Any other exciting projects in the pipeline?
Yes! We’ve teamed up with Tuk Tuk Life, a non-for-profit initiative founded by the two South-African adventurists Karl van Zyl and Santi du Toit, whose mission is to make people more environmentally conscious. Next year they will attempt to break several world records by travelling around the world in one of our TukTuks – relying on renewable energy to power their 50 000km journey. The 18-month journey will see them depart Manila, the Philippines on the 1st of April 2021, drive across Asia, down through Africa, up South, Central and North America to finally cross the US to end in Times Square in New York at the end of September 2022.
Where do you want Infinite Mobility to be in 5 years?
We want to be a global market leader of premium micro-mobility hardware and software. We will achieve this by continuously designing innovative products, listening to our customers, and staying at the top of our game.
And now, a few questions about you and your sustainability journey.
What does sustainability mean to you?
Being environmentally friendly, socially beneficial, respectful to other people and improving health.
What do you think about Aurora's quiz? Could we share your scores?
I love the Aurora concept. It reminds you to be more aware of sustainability and how important it is to contribute as an individual. You can see my scores below.
If you’re wondering how the scores are calculated and how you compare to other people who have taken the quiz this article explains it.
What are your favourite sustainable brands?
I prefer small local producers (I’m not a big fan of big brands). With cars, my favourite is Tesla.
What advice would you give to someone looking to live a more sustainable lifestyle?
Start where you are today, do everything you can with whatever resources you have, have a zero-waist mindset, take self-responsibility, and think for yourself.
More info here.