Sushil Reddy with his solar energy-powered e-bike
Sushil Reddy with his solar energy-powered e-bikeSushil Reddy

Sustainable Adventures: Sushil Reddy's Tryst With His E-Cycle

Reddy undertook an e-bike expedition in 2017, "SunPedal Ride," demonstrating and educating people across different Indian states on the benefits of solar energy and how it reduces physical efforts

A two-time world record holder, Sushil Reddy, has done multiple long-distance expeditions on electric vehicles. But his tryst with travelling has nothing to do with any bucket list. Instead, it happened because of his love for solar energy.

Back in 2013, as a graduate in renewable energy from IIT Bombay, Reddy realised that not many Indians knew about the wonders of the sun's energy. He decided to plan a road trip on a solar energy-powered cycle to educate people across Indian states, namely Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh in 79 days. The journey covered 7,000+ km, carrying solar panels onto the cart. Through this journey, Reddy showed the power of solar energy and how it reduces physical efforts by 50 per cent.

Reddy demonstrating the benefits of solar energy for e-bikes
Reddy demonstrating the benefits of solar energy for e-bikesSushil Reddy

Calling it the "SunPedal Ride," Reddy stopped at different locations to give a live demonstration of his e-bike, which was supported by batteries that used solar panels for charging. The event proved to be a turning point in his life and earned him a Limca Book of Records for the longest journey on a solar-powered bicycle, followed by a Guinness Book of Records for undertaking the longest journey on a solar bicycle (record surpassed later). The feat brought him international recognition, too. He was invited as a special guest at the Sun Trip Tour in July 2017, making him the first-ever Indian at the event. Continuing his vision to raise awareness of solar energy, Reddy travels worldwide, promoting sustainable living and renewable energy, even today.

Q

Tell us about your journey. What motivated you to transition into an electric cyclist and a traveller?

A

In 2016, I started an initiative called "The SunPedal Ride" to raise awareness about sustainable energy and mobility via endurance journeys on zero-tailpipe emission vehicles. The first journey of this project was undertaken on a partially solar-powered electric bicycle for 7000+ kilometres in 79 days across India. I opted for electric bikes because they are one of the most accessible low-carbon modes of transportation, which also opens up the cycling experience for everyone. I use electric bicycles for short daily commutes, which helps me maintain a healthy, active lifestyle.

Sushil Reddy (on the left) posing for a photo
Sushil Reddy (on the left) posing for a photoSushil Reddy
Q

How do you perceive travel and sustainable living?

A

Travel is an essential part of our lifestyle, and there are always ways to reduce our carbon impact while travelling. A straightforward example is choosing a low-carbon transportation mode from point A to point B. Regarding sustainable travel, I believe less is more, by which, I mean it is essential to carry few things while travelling. Also, choosing sustainable accommodations while travelling and supporting local communities is another aspect of sustainable travel.

Q

Please give us an understanding of your electric cycling ventures. How many places have you been to?

A

As a part of The SunPedal Ride project, there have been multiple endurance journeys on electric bicycles. In 2016, I and a team did a journey of 7500+ km in 79 days in India. In 2017, I and a co-rider, Rajendra Bhaskar, made a journey of 2000+ km in 30 days in France. In the same year, Anuj Karkare, Rinal Chheda, and I made a trip of 1500+ km in 15 days in California, USA. My last trip was in 2021-2022, when I and a co-rider, Luis Fourzan, travelled 11,800+ km in 150+ days in the USA.

A glimpse of one of Reddy's expeditions
A glimpse of one of Reddy's expeditionsSushil Reddy
Q

Has your passion for sustainable living made you a traveller, or was seeing new places and meeting new people always part of the plan?

A

Meeting people as much as possible to share journey experiences has always been part of the plan during my journeys. Sharing the benefits of sustainable travel with people during the trips is always an added value. On each journey during the SunPedal Ride, we met students from various universities and shared our experiences of sustainable mobility and travel.

A glimpse of one of Reddy's expeditions
A glimpse of one of Reddy's expeditionsSushil Reddy
Q

How do you hope your journey will impact future generations in terms of renewable energy awareness and sustainability?

A

Each journey is a case study for stakeholders of the clean energy and e-mobility sector. The learnings from each journey are shared with the relevant stakeholders, including students, so the feedback can be used to make necessary improvements. The learnings from the journey help students understand the opportunities they can work on and develop their skills to be a part of the workforce and contribute to the renewable energy and sustainable mobility sectors.

Q

What differences did you notice between India's perception of solar power and e-mobility and the approaches in France and the United States?

A

India, France and the USA are very different markets regarding clean energy and e-mobility. Overall, we see an accelerated push towards solar energy and e-mobility adoption in India, thanks to the aggressive policies from the Indian Government and the cost parity due to advances in innovation and technology. India has an average of 300 sunny days per year out of 365, which is a great advantage compared to France, for example, regarding solar energy adoption.

We have a good opportunity to become a global manufacturing hub in the solar and e-mobility sectors. The USA is also quite ahead in technological advances in the solar energy and e-mobility sectors. The Southern part of the USA has a more significant solar energy advantage. Companies like Tesla in the USA have contributed to the e-mobility transition in the USA. France has recently started working towards setting up a Gigafactory to manufacture batteries.

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