Swiss adventurer Louis Palmer had a childhood dream of driving around the world in a car. That dream held true for him until he began traveling as a young man for seven years from 1994 to 200,1 visiting five continents where he saw the first signs of global warming; in South America, rain was falling at an all-time high while in Afghanistan, he saw drought and hunger as never recorded before.
Palmer decided to try and create his own vehicle, one that doesn’t emit any CO2, so he could fulfill his childhood dream without damaging the environment. With help from students at the Technical University in Lucerne and various technology companies providing batteries, trailer, the engine, and steering, Palmer came up with the Solartaxi. The designs were first completed in March of 2005 and the first test drives conducted a year later in February of 2006. Without a body or even any brakes, the prototype reached a top speed of 50 mph. A year later the vehicle was ready for its round-the-world trip.
Last July, Palmer launched the tour with his Solartaxi, which is powered by panels on a trailer behind the vehicle. It is slightly less grandiose than the solar limo – the three-wheeler blue Solartaxi looks like a cereal box cut out to put in a steering wheel.
Palmer began the North American leg of his tour in Vancouver earlier this month and is making his way currently down California. He’s already driven through China, India, Eastern Europe, Saudi Arabia, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and South Korea. In total, he’s driven through 27 countries and 20,000 miles in his blue vehicle that drew tons of onlookers recently during a stop in British Columbia.
“I can’t believe I have made it two-thirds around the world,” said Palmer in Vancouver before heading onto the U.S. part of the journey. Although the high cost of gas has kept many drivers at home this summer, Palmer has managed to spend only $100 on electricity so far. He hopes to finish the journey this December in Poland at the World Climate Change Conference.