Car crosses Australia using wind power

Posted by Kate Taylor

A wind-powered car has just completed its first long road trip - from Perth to Sydney - at a cost of just $15.

The Wind Explorer is a prototype vehicle built by Germans Dirk Gion and Stefan Simmerer, and is powered by lithium-ion batteries that can be charged overnight by a mobile wind turbine, along with an attached kite to pull it along.

"We’re incredibly proud. A dream has come true," commented German extreme sportsmen Dirk Gion and Stefan Simmerer, who developed the vehicle in just six months.

It took 18 days to cover the 3,000-mile journey, which netted it several records - it's the first wind-powered vehicle to cross a continent, the longest overall distance covered by an exclusively wind-powered land vehicle, and the longest distance covered by such a vehicle in 36 hours. At one point, it hit 50mph.

It's small and light, weighing just 200 Kg including the battery pack. The body is constructed of a carbon fiber sandwich over an aluminum frame, and it uses racing bicycle tyres to reduce resistance.

The 8kWh lithium-ion battery pack is recharged overnight using a portable wind turbine on a 20-foot telescopic bamboo mast.
Unfortunately, the wind didn't always turn up when required, particularly on the first leg of the journey.

The team was forced to use just a little electricity from the grid, leading to the $15 cost - although this apparently doesn't invalidate its records, as the vehicle was still able to log many hundreds of miles using only kite power.

"This was a tremendous achievement by Dirk Gion and Stefan Simmerer. It shows what pioneering spirit and German high-technology are capable of," said Klaus Engel, Chairman of Evonik, which provided the materials for the bodywork and lithium-ion batteries.