19 Dec 2008

Solar-powered car world tour completed

9:47 am on 19 December 2008

A Swiss engineer has completed 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 on Thursday in his "solar taxi" after covering 53,451 kilometres over four continents.

Since his departure in 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.

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

He said one of his goals was to persuade as many people as possible that renewable energy is ecological, economical and reliable.

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

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