Swiss completes first world tour in solar-powered car

19th December 2008, Comments 0 comments

It took Louis Palmer 17 months to travel across 53,451 kilometres over 40 countries in four continents in a solar-powered car.

GENEVA – A Swiss engineer completed Thursday the first ever round-the-world trip in a solar-powered car after more than 17 months on the road during which he crossed almost 40 countries.

Louis Palmer, 36, arrived back in Lucerne in central Switzerland in his "solar taxi" after covering 53,451 kilometres over four continents.

Since his departure on 3 July 2007, he travelled through eastern Europe, the Middle East and India before heading to New Zealand, Australia, southeast Asia and China and finally the United States.

He finished his trip after a detour through France, England, Scandinavia and Germany.

"We have achieved our first world tour without using a single drop of oil," Palmer rejoiced at the end of his trip.

The three-wheeler solar taxi, which towed a trailer packed with batteries charged by the sun, reached speeds of 90 kilometres per hour. It had a battery for travel in the night and in cloudy conditions.

"One of my goals was to persuade as many people as possible that renewable energy is ecological, economical and reliable," Palmer told reporters.

His vehicle only broke down twice during the tour, he said, and surmounted the extreme heat in the Middle East and the hazardous terrain in America's Rocky mountains.

The small blue-and-white vehicle carried around 1,000 passengers, including United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Rajendra Pachauri, head of the Nobel-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Palmer has previously said the prototype for the solar taxi could be mass produced but that it would need serious modifications.

He said he plans to travel around the world in 80 days for his next challenge, but in a faster car.

[AFP / Expatica]

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