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Published on February 3rd, 2012 | by Charis Michelsen


The World’s Prettiest Solar Car Drives Through America

February 3rd, 2012 by  

SolarWorld GT American Leg

The world’s prettiest solar car (the one from Bochum) kicked off its U.S. leg of its journey around the world this week. The SolarWorldGT is in California today, after successfully completing the first 3,100 miles of its journey in Australia and New Zealand.

Solar-Powered Sports Cars – the Future?

The purely solar-powered car, called the SolarWorld Gran Turismo (or GT), is a joint effort made by American solar panel manufacturer SolarWorld and Bochum University of Applied Sciences of Germany. As a sports car it seats two, and as a solar car, it’s powered by the solar cells integrated into the roof.

Kevin Kilkelly, president of Solarworld Americas (the company’s commercial unit based in California), spoke briefly to Business Wire about the future of solar cars in the industry as he sees it:

“The SolarWorld GT is an ambassador for sustainable personal transportation, reminding us that the power to shift our driving habits away from dirty fossil fuels is within our grasp. Clean energy from the sun is there for the taking – without depleting the Earth’s riches.”

From Sea to Shining Sea (or Something)

Going far beyond the 3,000 miles raced by solar cars in Australia every other year, the SolarWorld GT is aiming for a 21,000 mile record-breaking drive – the longest distance ever driven by a solar car. It will travel over 3,700 miles in the United States alone, starting in California and finishing up in South Carolina. The trip should take 49 days in all, with receptions hosted by the drivers and crew at each of the five planned stops.

The SolarWorld team will also be hosting a Facebook competition to see if anyone recognizes where the car has been from clues dropped during the journey. Winners get stuff from SolarWorld, but the big incentive to participate is the drawing for an Apple iPad 2 (which will not be solar powered, sadly).

You, Too, Can See the SolarWorld GT in Action

For those of you who are in the area and want to see the car in person, the receptions at each planned stop are open to the public:

  • 4 p.m. Feb. 3, University of California Santa Barbara, Bren School of Environmental Management, Santa Barbara, CA.
  • 8:30 a.m. Feb. 6, SolarWorld Americas, Camarillo, CA.
  • 4 p.m. Feb. 10, Arizona State University, Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development, Tempe, AZ.
  • 4 p.m. Feb. 23, Texas Christian University, School of Geology, Energy and the Environment, Fort Worth, TX.
  • 4 p.m. March 9, Florida A&M University, High Performance Materials Institute, Tallahassee, FL.

After leaving South Carolina, the SolarWorld GT will head on to Europe, Africa, and Asia. The final leg of the trip will be back in Australia later this year.

Questions or opinions? Feel like hunting down the solar car and watching it drive by? Let us know in the comments, below.

Source: Business Wire | Image: SolarWorld 

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About the Author

spent 7 years living in Germany and Japan, studying both languages extensively, doing translation and education with companies like Bosch, Nissan, Fuji Heavy, and others. Charis has a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and currently lives in Chicago, Illinois. She also believes that Janeway was the best Star Trek Captain.

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