| NUSA DUA, Indonesia
NUSA DUA, Indonesia Louis Palmer's taxi cost as
much as two Ferraris, has a top speed of 90 kms (55 miles) per
hour yet could make history as the first solar-powered car to
drive around the world.
Palmer, a Swiss teacher who set off from Lucerne in July,
is having a stop-off in Bali, Indonesia, to help environment
ministers and others among 10,000 delegates get around at a
December 3-14 U.N. climate conference in a luxury beach resort.
"This is the first time in history that a car is driving
around the world without using a single drop of petrol," he
told Reuters by the blue and white three-wheeled car, which
tows a flat-topped trailer with 6 sq meters (65 sq ft) of solar
"This car is driving entirely with solar energy," he said.
So far he has driven 14,400 km (8,950 miles) through 17 nations
including Romania, Turkey, Syria and India.
That is about a third of the way through a trip meant to
take him across Australia, parts of Latin America, the United
States, north Africa and back home in about a year's time.
The distance covered on land will be more than around the
equator. Palmer is relying, however, on oil-powered ships for
some stretches, such as from India to Indonesia. And he also
has a petrol-fuelled vehicle for support, including repairs.
Palmer, 35, has a "taxi" sign on the roof -- he is willing
to pick up passengers for free in the low-slung two-seater car.
"I had a drunk hitch-hiker in Hungary but also had Prince
Hassan of Jordan inside," he said. In Bali, one job will be to
pick up the head of the U.N. Environment Program, Achim
Steiner, from the airport.
"I want to make people aware that there is global warming
but you also have solutions," Palmer said. His car is an
example of new ways to curb use of fossil fuels at the U.N.
talks, which is trying to widen a fight against global warming.
He reckons the car would cost around 6,000 euros ($8,900)
if mass produced. But factoring in work by sponsors and friends
the car would be the cost of two Ferraris. "The top speed is
90, but in city traffic the Ferraris go 50. So do I."
The car is nine meters (30 feet) long including the trailer
and weighs 700 kg (1,500 lb). Palmer admits he cheats if daily
trips exceed 100 kms -- he then needs to use a back-up battery,
charged by electricity from solar panels.
After a car crashed into his trailer in Syria "the
transport minister decided to give us a police export. Wherever
I went...I had a police escort with motorcycles and flashing
-- For Reuters latest environment blogs click on:
(Editing by David Fogarty)