Published on February 9th, 2013 | by Nicholas Brown


NBC News: Wind-Powered Car Travels 3,000 Miles Across Australia For $15 (Video)

February 9th, 2013 by  

A lightweight car called the Wind Explorer recently traveled a whopping 3,000 miles across Australia with the assistance of wind power at a cost of only $15.

The electric vehicle was built by Evonik as a demonstration of its battery and lightweight materials technologies. The vehicle is currently on display at the company’s headquarters.

The vehicle was powered by three sources of energy: one was a portable wind turbine; the second was a kite which helped to pull the vehicle 10–15% of the time (when the wind blue in the right direction); and the third was the electricity grid (however, it only used $15 worth of electricity from the grid).

“They were able to supplement their lithium-ion battery power with kite power about 10 to 15 percent of the time,” Bill Bunting, a senior scientist with Evonik Industries in New Jersey, told NBC News.

The wind turbine weighs 70 pounds, the batteries 200 pounds, and the carbon fiber body also weighs 200 pounds.

Two average-sized people were driving the car and managing the kite, so that brings the total weight up to about 1,000 pounds.

Automakers are racing to decrease the weight of their vehicles so that they can meet new fuel efficiency standards that require an average of 54.5 miles per gallon (MPG)* by 2025. A general rule of thumb is a 1-MPG gain in fuel efficiency for every 100 pounds of weight lost.

This vehicle is a good demonstration of how great a role weight reduction can play in the effort to improve automobile fuel efficiency. Weight reduction can also improve safety by reducing braking distances.

*54.5 MPG (US); 65.45 MPG (UK); 4.3 L/100km

Source: NBC News
Video Credit: WindExplorerChannel on Youtube

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About the Author

writes on CleanTechnica, Gas2, Kleef&Co, and Green Building Elements. He has a keen interest in physics-intensive topics such as electricity generation, refrigeration and air conditioning technology, energy storage, and geography. His website is:

  • Yo Mama

    “Two average-sized people were driving the car.”

    Since when do “two average sized people” have a total mass of 530lbs? That’s 265lbs each. Perhaps these two “average sized people” should have taken a walk across Australia instead.

    • Anna

      They obviously factored in the weight of the vehicle, or did you miss the whole discussion after that sentence regarding automakers needing to improve fuel efficiency via vehicle weight reduction?

      • Anna

        Even if that number factors in the total components of the vehicle, notice that it states “Up to 1000 lbs” so it may very well be 850+ total. In fact even if that weren’t the case, 265 lbs is a normal, healthy weight for a tall, muscular adult male. Height, musculature & bone density would contribute a lot more than fat.

  • Otis11

    The wind power makes more sense for large tankers IMO as they already have dedicated staff, but a cool demonstration of the concept!

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