"On 3 July 2007 I set off on my first journey around the world with a solar powered vehicle. Admittedly, as a regular citizen I cannot change the world but I can demonstrate to the world just how dire the global climate situation has become and how many sophisticated solutions to lower the greenhouse gases already exist, which bring with them many other advantages. So that we can have a better world and a more secure future. The solar taxi should rekindle hope and a zest for life, set an example to counteract resignation and stimulate reflection. And show that every single one of us can take a step towards preserving our planet." - Louis Palmer, Solartaxi
This summer, the $250,000 Solartaxi and Swiss creator Louis Palmer are making their way up and down the west coast of the U.S. Having already visited parts of California, they are now headed to Vegas (baby!), as part of the 50,000-kilometer, around-the-world tour promoting alternative energy sources. This is the first solar powered vehicle to circumnavigate the globe.
The Solartaxi does a nice job getting around San Francisco's winding streets and hills, and taking on the Tesla Roadster in a street race. Palmer and his Solartaxi have also spent time in India, Bali, Australia and China. In India, Palmer took in some amazing sites and combated some serious traffic, too!
The vehicle is a low-riding two- seater towing a flatbed trailer of solar cells that provide 50% of the vehicles fuel needs. The other 50% are supplied through plug-in batteries. Its top speed is 55 mph, which is a bit limiting, but fast enough for highway driving. Palmer, a teacher of math, French and German in Switzerland, travels with a crew, mechanics and supplies in conventional vehicles. The vehicle took 2 years to develop, and was created by a team of students and faculty at 4 Swiss universities. The costs of the vehicle have been covered by sponsors including Q.Cells, Swisscom and the Swiss government.
The site gives regular updates on the cars condition, the crews mood and the weather. It also has a map of where the car has been recently and where it is going next. Palmer is heading toward the record books:
If Palmer can successfully cross the U.S. and the Atlantic, then return to Switzerland over the next five months, he will set a world record as the first motor vehicle not powered by fossil fuels to drive around the world on ordinary roads — and make it home three days before Christmas, fulfilling a promise he made to his mother. - Environmental News Network
While this is probably not the solar car for mass production due to its cost, it does demonstrate that clean technology solutions are here and becoming more viable each day.