Two Mahidol University (MU) students will drive the world's first electricity- and solar-powered tuk-tuk to France under an initiative to promote green energy.
They are scheduled to leave Bangkok for their four-month long trip on June 10.
Both travellers are French double-degree students in a collaboration programme between MU's College of Management and Toulouse University's College of Management in France.
"Though using an electricity- and solar-powered tuk-tuk is not enough to solve all the environmental problems, it is a good start that can lead to bigger changes," one of the students, Ludwig Merz, said.
He pointed out that if city-dwellers can use clean energy to commute, they would not have to inhale polluted air, which affects both health and the environment. Merz said he hopes the Pilgreens Project, which he co-founded, would be a small step forward towards a better, cleaner future.
This project is based on Project Management and Cross-Culture Management courses, which aim to promote green energy, cut down consumption of fuel and raise awareness about alternative energy.
"These courses have inspired me and my friends to come up with the Pilgreens Project. We aim to illustrate that technological advancement can help create clean energy," he said.
Assoc Prof Annop Tanlamai, dean of the MU College of Management, said his university was delighted to support the project.
"This trip does not only conform to our problem-solving based learning approach, but also helps reduce energy consumption and pollution. It will also boost tourism in Thailand and put the country in the spotlight," he said. The two students will travel through 16 countries in 120 days, covering a distance of about 20,000 kilometres.
The tuk-tuk has solar panels on the roof, a 70v, 30kW per hour lithium battery and can travel 200km when fully charged, which takes six to eight hours. The cost of travel works out at about Bt0.7 per km or Bt14,000 for the entire trip.
The goal of the Pilgreens Project is to spark an interest among the general public to care about the environment and support alternative energy.
MU is supporting this initiative in order to establish itself as an "Eco University" by next year.
Mahidol University was named a top green university in the world as per the University of Indonesia Green Metric World University Ranking 2013, ranking 31st in the world, 4th in Asia and 1st in Thailand, out of 301 universities worldwide.