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Bikinis, BBQs and Bureaucrats31.01.2008

Tags: Australia       Comments: 3

Picture of the day


The Solar Taxi has arrived Down Under. But Louis Palmer has yet to meet the Australians’ famed easygoing attitude. Driving through Sydney with ‘Cooking Oil Rudi’ he encounters absurd regulations and pedantic bureaucrats.

A big hello from Sydney. We meet up with ‘Salad Oil Rudi’. He traveled with us in his cooking oil-fuelled Mercedes from Jordan right across Saudi-Arabia to Dubai (more...). Now we meet again after four months. Rudi has also just arrived in Sydney after shipping his Mercedes from Dubai direct to Perth in Western Australia.


The Solar Taxi is still stuck in the port, so Rudi drives us through Sydney in his Mercedes. His car, decorated with flags and two big oil barrels causes a sensation, which is not entirely to his satisfaction. A siren wails behind us. Rudi pulls over.

A policewoman gets him to blow into in a bag because he apparently failed to give way to a police car. The policewoman takes it all with humor – everyone laughs when they see Rudi’s car anyway. "Have you drunk any alcohol in the past two hours?", she asks. Rudi answers conscientiously and quite seriously: "Madame, I have not touched a drop in 20 years!"

Just try not to attract attention...

Just a few blocks further on we hear the next police siren behind us. Rudi pulls over and jams on the brakes. Now what’s up? This time a young policeman wants to know why Rudi has "no registration". Rudi takes it all in his stride. He wasn’t stopped once during the entire trip from Lucerne to Sydney and he’s now been pulled over twice within an hour because he has an exotic number plate. "What, me, no registration? That’s a Swiss number plate!", Rudi explains indignantly.

The policeman seems somewhat confused. Rudi presents his papers and talks at him in his fluent mix of Swiss German-English. Uh oh, I think, it’s only Rudi’s number plate that looks home made. The Solar Taxi is completely home made. How am I ever going to get past the Australian police in the Solar Taxi? But this is not to be our only completely unexpected difficulty in Australia.

Six Million Euros Insurance

We’ve planned a press event in Sydney but our search for somewhere to present the car is unsuccessful. All the institutions that lease places demand that we take out public liability insurance in case someone suffers a dizzy spell while standing next to the Solar Taxi and sues. We’re told that we should get ourselves insured for about six million Euros. I can hardly believe it. Australia seems not only to be drifting in the direction of the USA and the conditions there, but to have long since gone there.

We’re in the land of contradictions: lots of relaxed people, all cheerful and easygoing, land of beer, beach, BBQs and bikinis. Yet to get a drivers license, these same Australians have to do 150 hours of driving practice accompanied by an experienced licensed driver. On the other hand, third-party vehicle liability insurance is optional in the state of New South Wales!

We allow Customs officials to inspect the Solar Taxi in the Harbour. The whole business is over in five minutes. The boom gate goes up and – welcome to Australia! But it’s not full speed ahead to Perth, yet. First of all it’s full speed ahead to Bob’s workshop. The rear suspension has – for the fourth time – developed a crack.



by: James

02.02.2008 04:02

if you are coming to Perth, may be you have time for a radio interview,
solltest Du in Perth ankommen vieleicht ist zeit uebrig fuer ein radio interview ( live or pre recorded)
cheers/gruss James
gehe zu sbs radio sydney und frage nach ursula schaeppi.......sie macht ein schweizer programm dort

by: Mark Taylor

02.02.2008 07:02

I am Magazine Editor for the Australian Electric Vehicle Association. Will the Solar Taxi be at the A1 race at Eastern Creek on Sunday Jan 3rd?

by: David Sharpe

06.02.2008 10:02

Please advise when you will be in Melbourne. If you get here tomorrow (8Feb) you can come to the Australia Elec Veh Asscn meeting in Oakleigh. We can book accom for you too if you wish.
My ph no 0395985775 or 0414886322
David (AEVA)

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