The extraordinary electric car race will start today at the Square of Nations in Geneva and cover Europe, Asia, and North America. Four teams, will have 80 days to cover 30,000 kilometers across 16 countries in their zero-emission, electric cars.
The aim is to complete the 18,642-mile (30,000-kilometer) trip without pumping carbon into the atmosphere, a goal that Louis Palmer, the race organizer, believes can be done.
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," Palmer told reporters as the vehicles lined up at the U.N.’s European headquarters in Geneva. "These are capable of doing 500 kilometers (311 miles) a day."
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, Los Angeles and Cancun, the Mexican resort where governments are going to hold a global climate change meeting at the end of November.
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.
Swiss competitor Toby Wuelser claims his futuristic design can do 218 miles (350 kilometers) on a single charge and reach speeds up to 155 miles (250 kilometers) an hour.
"It’s like flying half a meter (20 inches) above the ground," he said before boarding the bullet-shaped vehicle and zipping silently up the hill to the starting line.
"We loved the idea of going around the world in electric cars from the very first day. This project symbolizes the solar industry’s power of innovation, and it provides a vision of what will be possible in the future. This remarkable race is perfectly in line with Canadian Solar’s sustainability goals. We are very proud of our association with this event and congratulate the teams for their participation," said Dr. Shawn Qu, CEO and Chairman of Canadian Solar.
For the 80-day world tour, the teams have designed highly sophisticated electric vehicles. Different from classic car races, the ZERO race is not about speed, but about the environment, energy efficiency and reliability.
New approaches of climate protection and energy efficiency
The ZERO race was initiated by Louis Palmer from Switzerland, who was the first person to go around the world in a solar-powered vehicle. The organization team wants to use the race to build public awareness for the potentials of renewable energies and energy efficiency, particularly in the face of the ever-increasing global traffic and the growing environmental pollution.
In November, the participants will stop over for the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Mexico. "We want to demonstrate that in the long term, seven billion people who live on this planet depend on renewable energies, and on clean mobility approaches. The ZERO Race is mostly about demonstrating realistic approaches to find a more climate-friendly and greener future," said Palmer.
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