Eighteen days. Fifteen dollars worth of electricity. Oh, and a distance of 3,107 miles. That’s the impressive stat line of the Wind Explorer, a 441-pound electric car that traveled from one end of Australia to the other and smashed three world records along the way.
As you’ve likely already guessed, wind power plays a significant role in the staggering fuel efficiency of this vehicle . A cool 1,400 miles of the journey across the smoldering Australian desert were done solely with wind-generated electricity, which is produced by a turbine with a maximum power of 1,000 volts and a range of approximately 124 miles when its 14-cell lithium ion battery is fully charged.
The rig also featured a kite – yes, a kite — which on the open plains accounted for another 300 miles of the Wind Explorer’s total. Its top speed of 50 mph won’t move the needle for the speed demons out there, but you can’t have it all, can you?
What really excites me about a car like the Wind Explorer is its breathtaking display of human innovation and potential. Sure, kites wouldn’t be the most practical way to get around, say, New York City (imagine all the tangle-ups…and talk about road rage!), but the fact that we can achieve this kind of efficiency at all shows that we have only begun to scratch the surface of what is possible with green energy.
Just for fun, I calculated what it would cost a standard gasoline-engine car to go the same distance, assuming a respectable 30 miles to the gallon and the depressing $3.55-a-gallon price I begrudgingly flushed away into my car at the Shell station this morning.
The total: $367.65. Put another way, that’s over twenty-four times the cost of the Wind Explorer’s electric energy. When gas hits $4 by this summer (er, way before summer), that’s going to look even sweeter.