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Monday, September 8, 2008

Solar Powered Car Attempts to Circle Globe as Slowly as Possible

Another day, another golf cart size, three-wheeled solar-powered car with style ripped from the 1980's. At least with this one, the Solar Taxi, there's a record at stake, as Swiss "adventurer" Louis Palmer is taking the car on a trip across the planet without using a drop of gasoline. He'll be the first to do it, and we're hoping his example will inspire more alternative energy cars (hopefully a few have that elusive fourth wheel). The 35 MPH top speed is going to be a tough sell with us Yanks. Palmer, my man, haven't you heard? Women and men alike get hot and bothered by power and speed.

The Solar Taxi gets its juice from a $5,000 solar panel trailer provided by German company Q-Cells. Weather permitting, the trailer provides the Taxi with 60 miles of oompf. Longer runs are powered by a pair of $15,000 250-lb. recyclable batteries from Zebra Battery. They store energy from the sun and from whatever electrical socket Palmer can find at night (it's just like searching for a socket at a conference, but bigger, and people will still manage to trip awkwardly over the cord).

Altogether, Palmer said the rig gets about a 200 mile range between charges. As of this weekend, Palmer and his crew had traveled 27,000 miles across 28 countries, so that's a lot of stop and go driving—or is that charging?

The trip is scheduled to conclude in December, but Palmer won't be finished just yet. He's also in the middle of planning an 80-day solar powered race around the world for sometime in 2009. [ABC News]
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