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And they´re off - on longest, greenest challenge

The Globe and Mail

Teams put electric technologies to the test in round-the-world, 80-day tour

Geneva, Switzerland — The Associated Press

Three teams from Germany, Switzerland and Australia set off Monday on The Zero Race, aiming to prove it’s possible to tour around the world in 80 days with emission-free, electric vehicles.

The race, which will pass through 16 countries, is no simple challenge. Already, an American team that was supposed to compete lost its vehicle to a fire, while a South Korean team is expected to join later after running into battery trouble.

The aim is to complete the 30,000-kilometre trip without pumping carbon into the atmosphere, a goal that Louis Palmer, the race organizer, believes can be done.

Mr. Palmer should know. Two years ago the Swiss inventor and former schoolteacher completed his own round-the-world trip in a solar-powered taxi without using a single drop of gas.

“Technology has developed a lot since then,” Mr. Palmer told reporters as the vehicles lined up at the UN's European headquarters in Geneva. “These are capable of doing 500 kilometres a day.”

Mr. Palmer said he hopes manufacturers will soon embrace some of the green technologies and incorporate them in their cars. Eventually he hopes that a two-seater electric vehicle with a range of 250 kilometres will be sold for as little as $12,820.

The route

• The race – which will be measured in points for style, technology and popularity rather than speed – will pass through 150 cities, including Berlin, Moscow, Shanghai, Vancouver, Los Angeles and Cancun, the Mexican resort where governments are going to hold a global climate-change meeting at the end of November.

• From Geneva, the race will continue eastward. The event is to be completed in 80 days (excluding maritime crossings). Participants will charge their vehicles from regular power outlets along the way, offsetting their consumption by pumping electricity into the grid from solar and wind plants back at home.

The rules

Competing vehicles in the Zero Race are required to:

• Be propelled by an electric motor.

• Drive at least 250 kilometres at an average speed equal or above 80 kilometres an hour.

• Be able to reach a maximum distance of 500 km per day, with a recharge stop of four hours during lunch.

• Carry at least two passengers.

The teams

Team Oerlikon Solar Racing, Switzerland

Swiss competitor Toby Wuelser says his futuristic Zerotracer design can do 350 kilometres on a single charge and reach speeds up to 250 km/h.

“It's like flying half a metre above the ground,” he said before boarding the red, bullet-shaped vehicle and zipping silently up the hill to the starting line.

The Zerotracer team is composed of two designers, an engineer and an IT specialist.

Team Vectrix, Germany

Sandra Lust of Berlin is one of two riders competing on a blue, souped-up electric scooter.

“There are some fancy electrics and a bigger battery inside, but otherwise it's the same” as the production model that can already be bought for about $11,000, she said.

Team TREV, Australia

Australian father-and-son team Nick and Jason Jones say their green vehicle – the Trev, short for Two-seater Renewable Energy Vehicle – is so efficient it will cost only $350 for the electricity needed to circle the globe.

The Joneses, who have already taken part in races across Australia and enjoy sponsorship from search-engine company Google Inc., said they have no plans to mass-produce their car. But all the plans to do so are available on the team website for others to follow, Jason Jones said.

The vehicle was designed and built at the University of South Australia. Team Trev has borrowed Trev from UniSA, has significantly upgraded it, and will hand it back to UniSA. The team considers Zero Race to be a unique opportunity to take Trev to the world and to show that electric cars can be clean, light and simple.


The news content in this section is responsibility of the information agencies and does not necessarily reflect the position of the Government of Mexico on this or other related topics.

The news content in this section is responsibility of the information agencies and does not necessarily reflect the position of the Government of Mexico on this or other related topics.

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