On the road again! It was the first time that we were all together with four cars now, including the red Think of Team Interlaken. Till Stoll, team leader of Team Interlaken, had made an incredible journey: he had driven his Think in just around 4 days from Pune to Bangalore to catch up with us, and he had just arrived yesterday morning!
Our first stop was planned in Tumkur, where team Twike found a great temple with a huge monkey statue. A great photo opportunity! Then we received a warm welcome at the Technical College, I held a lecture and we enjoyed fantastic Indian food. I must admit that we all like this food, and sometimes we even love it: Rice, curd, different vegetables and spices, dal, chapati, roti, nan … just to name a few.
But while we were charging the cars, the Twingo suddenly gave up charging. Immediately all the teams helped team Twingo to find the fault. It was the charger itself, and we realized that we were in deep troubles, as that charger had to be replaced, in the middle of India! Thanks to Paul’s incredible contacts, after making a few phone calls, he found a the right spare charger just 70 km away – at REVA! So Walter and Annemarie and Till drove back to Bangalore (luckily there was still more than 70 % of charge in the battery left), and they will try to catch up with us in the next few days, if (hopefully) everything goes well and a new charger can be built in. The other three teams continued to Chikmagulur. The last 35 kilometers were the hardest on our whole tour so far, so doubts about it. The street was in an incredibly bad condition, and it took us nearly 2.5 hours to make it, so we only arrived at 11 pm at night. It was Andrew and Jean-Claude from Team Twike who we admired the most for making it, as their shock absorbers are hard, and so are their seats, and their car is made for fine European roads and not at all for offroad-adventures-trips. But they made it, congratulations!
We spent our free day today at CEDT (Center for Electronic Design and Technology, founded 1975 by DEZA and Indian Government) in IISc (Indian Institute of Science), where we showed the cars to the students and I held a lecture. Then Paul (who still works for REVA) arranged that we get escorted by employees of the REVA company to their brand new manufacturing plant. This was clearly one of our highlights, visiting the world’s probably biggest electric car company and receiving a warm welcome by the entire staff. The highly motivated management took us for a tour of the plant. So far REVA has sold 4500 EV’s worldwide, and the production of the new 4-seater is going to start at the beginning of next year. The plant is soon going to be ready for the production of 30000 cars per year. We all immediately became fans of the new model, a stylish good-looking and very innovative car. When we were on the way back to the city, we enjoyed a lunar eclipse in the sky, and finally we ended up in a stylish restaurant in central Bangalore, where we were invited by the Consul General of Switzerland, Rolf Frei, for dinner. It was another amazing day, and we feel like we were on the road since weeks and weeks, but in fact it is just our first week and half of the trip that is over now. Yeah, we have made half way now!
Here is the day in pictures…
It was only a 110 km ride today, but we had to leave early as we couldn’t know how much time this road would take. With an average speed of 30 km/h we cruised between potholes and monkey families in direction of Bangalore, our half-way point and also our southern most point of the journey. When we crossed the border of Karnataka, it was also time to say good-bye to our great guide Mahendra, who had escorted us since Hyderabad.
I had heard a lot about Bangalore before, the Hi-Tech city of India. It should be different from the rest of India, I was told. So, what was the difference? First of all, we saw a lot of flyovers under construction. No doubt the city is expanding, and so does the traffic. The traffic is extremly slow, like in other cities, so this was rather dissapointing. But (of what I have seen) the streets were pretty clean, and the traffic was not so crazy like in other places. Lots of modern shops were lining up next to the streets in downtown Bangalore, and the city is quite green. So far I have also not seen signs of big poverty or misery, and not even one holy cow in the streets! I would certainly like to spend more time here, to check out this interesting city. The only thing that really reminded me of being in India were the noisy and stinky autorikshaws. I really hope they will be replaced as soon as possible. By electric rikshaws. Powered by solar energy of course!
And of course, this is our mission. To reach as many people as possible. We got a very warm welcome at Swissnex, a network of science and technology outposts run by the Swiss State Secretariat for Education and Research (SER). A great number of journalists showed up to the press conference, and it took quite a while until all the questions were answered. Swissnex offered great Indian food, of unseen sort so far, so it was easy for us to get our “batteries” charged.
In the evening we drove to the Indian Institute of Science and moved into our rooms, where we will stay two nights. But actually everyone has already left one hour after arrival. Swissnex has invited all of us for a Chrismas party!
And again we had a smooth drive on a great highway. All of us? No, not really. Since yesterday, Till is triyng to catch up with us, and yesterday he has even made an unbelievable 250 km with just one charge. Now we know that the THINK is the car with the longets range in the WAVE. But the enthusiasm didn’t last long, as this morning he realized that someone had cut the electricity for his car, so his battery was still half empty when he wanted to start. Till had to charge for another 5 hours, so he left late and couldn’t make it as far as he initially planned. Hopefully we should be reunited again on Saturday, in Bangalore.
On the highway I saw the first monkey today. He was crossing the street on a thin cable, hanging about ten meters above the street. What a sight, a monkey in the sky!
Team REVA, TWIKE and TWINGO arrived at the technological university of Anantapur today at 11:30. Charging wasn’t that easy, but finally we managed to distribute all 3 vehicles to three different buildings. Again we had a lecture in front of a hundred students, and everyone was very excited to see the cars, from outside and inside. Then we charged up our own batteries with toast & eggs in the canteen, before we hit the road again.
The last kilometers were the probably most beautiful ones on the whole route. Bizar hills with lonely forts or trees on the top, and for many kilometers we couldn’t see any human beings, and almost not even their impact on the nature. Just bush and half-dry landscape. No humans? This is a really rare sight in a country with more than 1 billion people.
Today we started at 7 am to be sure that we won’t miss the great welcome at the college in Mahbubnagar. Much to our surprise, the highway was in an excellent condition, so our drive became like cruising or floating in heaven, far away from holy cows and dangerous riksha drivers. May be a bit boring, too?
In Mahbubnagar the college waited for us with much excitement, and again we were invited to have a presentation in front of more than 300 students. Then we got a spicy, but delicious lunch.
In the evening we reached Kurnool just before sunset, and again more than 100 people gathered on a soccer field to give us a warm welcome and to inspect the vehicles. When we reached the hotel, we were already quite tired, but then we had to argue with the hotel manager who didn’t know whome to believe. While our cars were charging in front of the hotel, we calculated that the electricity that we pull would be 35 units, worth not more than 350 Rupees (about 7 Swiss Franks). But his electrician simply mixed up Amperes and Kilowatthours and calculated that we were pulling 250 units, and so they wanted to charge us 2600 Rupees – converted it would be 50 Swiss Franks. Paul and me, we simply couldn’t accept such a wrong calculation, so we spent almost one hour explaining the manager that it his electrician’s calculation was completly wrong. Finally we settled the bill at 770 Rupees, so noone had to loose his face, and finally everyone was sort of right. By then, it was already time to sleep.
Here is the day in pictures.
After travelling almost 900km, today our TWIKE suddenly gave up, in the middle of Hyderabad city traffic. Jean-Claude had to be pulled across the city, as some wiring got loose and no power reached the motor. Luckily, Andrew found the loose connector quite soon and the TWIKE could be healed. Also Annermarie and Hans reached Hyderabad today at 10:30, so we are 3 cars again. Till today started his journey with the red Think, and he could make an incredible 230 km drive all the way from Pune to Solapur today. We really hope that he can reach us in Bangalore. Franco and Karel are still in Pune, waiting for a spare part to make their vehicle move. On wednesday they should get it.
We had a fantastic press conference today at the Pollution Control Board, and a huge crowd of journalists turned up. It is amazing to see how much interest there is in India for electric cars and new mobility. But it’s not a surprise: when we travelled to the conference, we were suffering from noise, air pollution and crazy drivers. And we are just tourists, we can esc ape whenever we want. We really really need solutions, and every day that continues with the war that is fought with petrol cars on the streets is one day too much. India deserves better technology. I hope the 20 tv and news channels who showed up today will help to transform India!!
Team Twingo and Team Twike took off this morning at 5AM, as we wanted to cover more than 350 km today. What a surprise to see the crowded roads almost empty this morning! We could speed up and so experienced a nice sunrise.
In Solaphur, Team Twingo decided to stay there for a charge, so team REVA continued on a much better road than expected. It wasn’t a battle against cows and potholes today, but rather a pleasant cruise between dry fields, green trees and and oxes pulling carriages full of sugar cane. We (Team REVA) reached the historical city of Humnabad around 1PM, and the prinicple of the school was waiting for us with a fabulous Lunch. We heard that Team TWIKE was doing fine, they had just left a Humnabad half an hour before we arrived. We were greeted by 300 pupils before we left again with a fully charged battery.
Now, at 7 pm in the evening, the situation is as follows: Team Twingo has just arrrived in Humnabad, they will arrive tomorrow morning in Hyderabad on time for the press conference. Team TWIKE is being escorted by our local coordinator to the Hotel, and Team REVA is waiting for another local coordinator right now in a roadhouse 57 km before the hotel. Tomorrow one THINK will take off in Pune and they will try to catch up with us, while the other teams will have a press conference and a free day in Hyderabad.
Here is the day in pictures.
Paul and some very curious kids
Humnabad - WAVE welcome poster
Kids in a field in Humnabad
Louis with the kids in Humnabad
Sharing the road with cows
Cows on the street
just another road scene from today