Colossal Guatemalan flag welcomes solar-electric tuk tuk

The first motorcycle taxi of its kind in Mesoamerica dazzlingly wore the colors of the Guatemalan flag on its first formal tour. Its design and construction was in charge of the G-22 environmental association, with the participation of a multidisciplinary team of about 200 Guatemalan experts with social, technological, scientific and design inclinations, students, teachers and artisans and the sponsorship of various institutions and companies.

Free Press was the first medium to admire yesterday, September 14, the vehicle, which works with the energy provided by four last generation photovoltaic solar panels, of 150 w each, for a total of 600 w of power, and an electric motor of 1 200 w, and that it can move at 45 km per hour.

It can be charged from a conventional electrical outlet at home and draws its power from the sun during the day. It was 85% built by students from the Technical Training Institute, in Chiquimula, and the field research was carried out in Camotán, in that department.

Without producing atmospheric and acoustic polluting emissions, the vehicle, which was modified from a 10-year-old motorcycle taxi, is an example of the technology that can be developed by 100 percent Guatemalans. Unlike common motorcycle taxis, this eco-friendly vehicle has a rigid fiberglass roof and a metal frame to support the weight of the panels and thus provide greater safety for users. It can be used in the rain without any problem, such as Free Press could verify.

When transported in it, not even the sound of the engine is heard and you do not feel the instability or the back and forth movement of a common motorcycle taxi. Its mobility is smooth. It has a controller that provides the rider with data such as battery charge and mileage and disc brakes.

From an aesthetic point of view, on its front part the number 22 and the years 1821-2021 stand out, on the blue background of the bodywork. The elaboration of the upholstery was in charge of the Chiquimulteco Jimmy Manchamé, 82 years old, who recycled for this purpose sacks of blue and white corn to represent the colors of the flag, which, in addition, alludes to this grain, one of them main Guatemalan food since ancient times.

As rugs, he uses duffel bags, and some metal potholders are covered with recycled plastic wire, to reinforce their symbolism as a green vehicle. Other of its details are lights led to save energy, lights inside that turn on simultaneously with the turn signals and your disc brakes.

Development of the construction of the solar-electric tuk tuk, in the Intecap of Chiquimula. (Photo Prensa Libre, courtesy of G-22)


The giant flag, with a dimension of 30 by 45 meters, is made up of more than 12 thousand cement blocks, hand-painted by giant kite artisans from Santiago Sacatepéquez, Sacatepéquez, with eco-friendly lime-based paints. The shield was made with more than 2,000 plants and flowers, produced by women from San Juan Sacatepéquez, Guatemala, and San Miguel Dueñas, Sacatepéquez, to represent the “country of eternal spring.”

National flag made with more than 12 thousand blocks in the parking lot of the Cementos Progreso Stadium, zone 6. (Photo Prensa Libre, María José Bonilla)

“Lime is possibly one of the most used products in the history of mankind and today, this symbolic flag painted with wooden and lime brushes is a tribute to all Guatemalans who have tirelessly fought to build our country in these 200 years of history ”, said Alfredo Maúl, creative director of G-22. “Due to its unique properties, lime has not only been used for about 3,000 years in Mesoamerica for construction, but also to stabilize roads, nixtamalize corn, restore agricultural soils or treat sewage, among other uses” , Add.

Giant flag painting process. (Photo Prensa Libre, courtesy of G-22)

For the launch of the vehicle at the national level, a video was produced in which the process of the creation of the giant flag and various facets of development of the solar-electric tuk tuk can be observed. At the same time, to celebrate this unique Guatemalan technological achievement, the little pianist Yahaira Tubac, 11-year-old prodigy of national art, is heard in this video interpret the National Anthem of Guatemala, and part of the team that participated in the development and construction of the vehicle.

“This project was carried out through a participatory process so that it represents a link with the future, with 200 more years working as a team,” added Maúl.



With this vehicle it is expected to reduce noise pollution and greenhouse gas emissions that are currently produced by thousands of tuk tuks in the country. In departments such as Escuintla, Retalhuleu or El Progreso – where there is greater insolation – this vehicle could reach an efficiency of more than 50% of use of the sun, says Maúl.

“The main advantage of this solar-electric hybrid vehicle prototype is saving fuel, lubricants and maintenance of internal combustion engines, which naturally produce a large amount of greenhouse gas emissions and noise pollution,” says Maúl. It is estimated that emissions from tuk tuks, which use fossil fuels, produce four tons of CO2 – carbon dioxide – each year.

The intention of the project is to develop a kit electric-solar to adapt to tuc tuc, whose internal combustion engines have reached their end of life cycle, to which this system can be integrated, of about US $ 3,000, including training on road safety and insurance.

Interior of the tuk tuk, where you can see its nationalist upholstery and digital data controller. (Free Press Photo, María José Bonilla)

Regarding its financing, explains Maúl, the aspiration is to create a “green credit”, through a system of savings and credit cooperatives with national coverage, and to finance the kit electric-solar in three years, by linking it with a full coverage insurance for the vehicle, equipment, driver and passengers, in addition to the pilot’s commitment to receive a road education course of 80 academic hours, 40 virtual and 40 face-to-face, with the support of Biciudad Guatemala.

From this month until April 2022, five more units will be tested in different parts of the country, to monitor their performance and measure results.

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