Students at the Bochum University of Applied Sciences in Germany are going on the road trip of a lifetime.
In a two-seater electric car powered only by the sun, a team of students plan to circumnavigate the world. These German students designed the SolarWorld Gran Turismo (SolarWorld GT) and competed in the 2011 World Solar Challenge in Australia, which kicked off their round-the-world tour. After they crossed the finish line in Darwin, Australia, they decided to keep going and motored on to Sydney and then to New Zealand.
With a lift from DHL, the SolarWorld GT was transported across the Pacific Ocean and landed in San Francisco last week. The team made their way down the Pacific Coast Highway to Los Angeles and San Diego, posting updates of their travel on their Web site. They will hit Houston and Miami before ending up in Charleston, SC.
The travelers expect to finish the U.S. leg of their tour by the end of March, and wrap up the journey in China by mid-October. By the time they complete their circumnavigation, they'll have traveled more than 21,100 miles over several countries and four continents.
But the trek will be grueling. The SolarWorld GT has been dubbed "the world's prettiest solar car" and by solar car standards, it's quite fetching and luxurious. It has two doors--a rarity in solar cars--and two standard seats in an upright position instead of recumbent.
However, solar cars tend to skimp on creature comforts such as air conditioning and heat because of the electrical load they put on the car's battery. Weather and daylight will play a significant role in how far they will go each day. Luckily, the team has picked a southern route to cross the U.S., and will hopefully wrap up before winter hits in Asia. And not to worry, the solar car is traveling in a convoy carrying teammates and supplies.
Should the SolarWorld GT not fall apart on them, completing the circumnavigation will land the team in the "Guinness Book of World Records" as the longest driven route in a solar car.
The best part is that they won't have spent a dime on gas money.