The Wind Explorer--a kite-assisted lightweight electric car--drove 3,107 miles across Australia in 18 days using only $15 worth of electricity. As if that wasn't amazing enough, they journey set three world records: the first continental crossing by a wind-powered vehicle, the longest distance covered by a wind powered vehicle, and the longest distance covered by such vehicle in 36 hours!
The vehicle, an open roadster seating two people, weighs 441 lbs including both its battery pack and the wind turbine. It is constructed of sandwich carbon fiber which sits over an aluminum frame on top of bicycle tires that reduce any rolling resistance. The car's electric motor is located at the rear wheel with the trunk space up front.
The team, Dirk Gion and Stefan Simmerer, traveled over 1,400 miles on wind-generated electricity alone and did another 300 miles by kite.
The car's battery pack is 8 kWh lithium-ion battery spread over 4 blocks and 14 cells. It can be fully charged overnight from the wind turbine. The turbine sits atop a 20 foot telescopic bamboo pole and has a max power of 1,000 watts. Fully charged, the vehicle has a range of about 124 miles.
Test runs began in Perth around January 21 but the official journey started in Albany on the 26th, the southernmost point of the Australian mainland. The first 500 miles was all grid-powered but the Nullarbor Plain allowed for kite propulsion. This required one member to pilot the vehicle while the other held on to the large parasail-like kite. It is as difficult as it sounds as you can see in the video below.
WIth a lot of flat tires and a few blown out motors, the trip finished in Sidney on February 14th. The trip's top speed was 50 mph and their best daily distance was 306 miles. Quite an impressive journey considering the concept was conceived just last summer.
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