One man’s quest to travel around the world in a car without using a drop of gas is coming to a close over a year after it began. Swiss adventurer Louis Palmer has been driving his three-wheeled Solartaxi since last July. So far, he’s logged 27,000 miles and 28 countries.
The $5,000 Solartaxi was built for Palmer by Q-Cells, a German solar company. Zebra Battery provided the adventurer with two 250-pound rechargeable batteries— each valued at $15,000. The batteries store energy from the solar panels, as well as energy from the electric outlets that Palmer plugs the vehicle into every evening.
The car’s solar panels provide about 60 miles of power on a sunny day, but the added energy from electrical outlets allows the Solartaxi to travel 200 miles without recharging. Any road trip veteran can tell you that 200 miles a day makes for a slow trip— but speed isn’t really part of Palmer’s agenda.
Palmer, who is currently in Washington DC, plans to stop at the World Climate Change Conference in Poland before taking the Solartaxi home in December. And Palmer’s solar-powered driving ambitions won’t stop then. He’s already planning an 80-day solar-powered race around the world next year.
The Solartaxi isn’t headed for mass production any time soon, and solar panels probably won’t be a major source of energy for cars in the future. But Palmer’s venture proves that we can wean ourselves off petroleum— it just takes a little ingenuity.
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