NEW YORK – U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has made the fight against what he sees as man-made climate change one of the top priorities of the world body. On Friday, he got a first hand taste of the future he hopes to create.
Ban hitched a ride to work in the Solartaxi, an experimental solar-powered car that is currently being driven around the world by Louis Palmer, a Swiss schoolteacher and sometime adventurer, who is hoping to promote alternative fuels.
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Designed and built by students at Lucerne University in Switzerland, the small, two-seat electric vehicle pulls a trailer outfitted with solar panels and lithium-ion batteries. Fully charged, the car has a range of 250 miles and can travel at speeds of up to 60 mph. It can also be plugged into an electrical outlet on those days when the sun just isn't around.
Palmer claims the Solartaxi could be mass-produced and sold for under $5000, but the awkward design of the prototype looks like it needs quite a bit of work before it is ready for the marketplace.
Palmer's journey began in June of 2007, driving through Europe and Asia before making the trip to the United States. He plans to comple the trip this December at the U.N.-sposored Climate Change Conference in Ponzan, Poland.
"It is my first time riding in a solar-powered taxi," Ban told reporters upon his arrival at U.N. Headquarters. "I hope it is not the last time."