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Zero Race sends solar-powered EVs around the world

Drivers set out from Switzerland to circle the globe in electric vehicles powered by renewable energy, a project to underscore the potential of clean transportation.

Drivers in Geneva on Monday set off for a round-the-world rally in solar-powered vehicles to showcase the potential of electric vehicles.

The challenge is see whether the four teams can complete the 80-day trip emissions-free, according to Zero Race organizer Louis Palmer, who drove his own "solar taxi" through 38 countries over 18 months.

The typical look of a solar car is more like that of a spaceship than of a sedan, being only a few feet off the ground, oval-shaped, and covered with solar cells. The two-passenger vehicles in the Zero Race are more familiar, because they are electric vehicles powered by solar and wind power, according to the race organizers.

Solar-powered EVs line up for start of Zero Race in Geneva.
Solar-powered EVs line up for start of Zero Race in Geneva. Zero Race

Two of the vehicles are battery-powered scooters and the other two are custom sedans designed for efficiency.

"With this race we want to show that seven billion people on this planet need renewable energy and clean mobility," Palmer said in a statement.

The four teams on Monday departed Geneva, heading across Switzerland with planned stops in Brussels, Berlin, Vienna, Moscow, and Shanghai. From there, the cars will be shipped by boat to Vancouver, and from there they'll cross North America to eventually end up in Cancun, Mexico, in time for the United Nations Climate Conference.

The cars will then be shipped to Portugal, where they will complete the final leg and end up in Geneva next January, having covered 18,000 miles. Race organizers will invest in renewable energy projects to offset the emissions associated with the shipping.