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German adventurers drive wind-powered electric car across southern Australia

February 18, 2011 | 11:19 am

Wind turbine

Adventurers try to trek across Australia all the time – but few attempt the journey in a wind-powered electric car.

Two Germans, Dirk Gion and Stefan Simmerer, recently wrapped up an 18-day drive that took them 3,000 miles along the southern Australian coast in a vehicle that used the breeze to juice up its battery.

The total electricity cost for the Wind Explorer vehicle came out to less than $15. In addition to an 8-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack, the car is equipped with a kite system and a portable wind turbine with a 20-foot bamboo mast.

The lightweight vehicle weighs less than 450 pounds, just 150 pounds heavier than Gion and Simmerer together. And with the aerodynamic design and low-friction tires, it can run at up to 50 mph.

The duo, who have also water skiied behind a cruise ship and climbed the Tibetan high plateau, left Perth on Jan. 21 to run some tests on the Wind Explorer.

They then set off from Albany on Jan. 26 and made their way to Sydney, occasionally slamming the kite into telephone lines by accident and dodging roadside trees.


Solar car to be donated tonight to Petersen Automotive Museum

Charging an electric car with home solar panels

-- Tiffany Hsu

Photo credit: Buckle Up Productions,