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Polar Bears and Electro-Dragsters26.02.2008

Tags: Australia       Comments: 0

The Solar Taxi is in a racing car fever. At the Touring Car Championships in Adelaide Louis Palmer amazes spectators with his polar bear passenger. He also test-drives a racy 100-hp electro-dragster. And as usual, the police are after him.

Thundering motors, cute blondes and plenty of beer - welcome to the Australian Touring Car Championships in Adelaide. Another unforgettable highlight for us, because we're going to do a lap of the track during the race intermission.
Erik sits in the passenger seat in a polar bear costume, a symbol of climate change and the overexploitation of nature. Thousands of spectators line the racetrack, cameras click, and people wave enthusiastically and raise their beers to us. Finally the track boss waves us off the track, asking, "What's the dog for?"
Next, I go for a drive in "Trev", Peter Pudney's solar-powered car. His vehicle shows how a car can be environmentally friendly, sexy and very fast. "You only have to touch the accelerator lightly. Turn left at the first exit", he says. I lightly touch the accelerator and am promptly pressed back into my seat as we shoot past the first turnoff. I find myself suddenly in Adelaide's traffic. Hopefully no police see me out here in this dragster.
His two-seater's top speed will probably remain a secret because Peter has never dared to put his foot right down to the floor. The 40-kilo battery pack gives it a range of over 120 kilometres. How many more great vehicles do there have to be before this ‘Oil Age' technology is only admired on racetracks?
My journey continues through the famous wine-growing Barossa Valley area, with its vineyards and stately homes. There I take leave of civilisation. For the next ten days we'll be travelling though the empty outback across the Nullarbor Plain.
The Law is the Law
Instead of last week's 40-degree heat, there's a cool breeze today. Instead of shorts I have to put on my fleece pullover. And instead of remote wilderness and a few kangaroos it is in fact the police who are waiting for me.
"So what's the story?" asks the policeman who has pulled me over. I give him my standard answer. "This is the first time in history that a vehicle is driving around the world without using a single drop of petrol." "All right", he says, "But have you got an Australian permit?" "No, I don't need one." "But every car imported into Australia has to be converted!"
I'm sure I don't need a permit. "Only when you import a car. This is a transit, so I don't need an Australian permit." The policeman says, "Well you might be right but I don't think you can just drive around. Have you got a driver's license?" I give him my license and a newspaper clipping. "Look! I've driven through 20 countries and I have yet to meet a policeman who said I couldn't drive here! Do you think I would have come to Australia if I wasn't sure I can drive here?"
I tell him about Bali and a wedding celebrated in the Solar Taxi in Germany and take a photo of this friendly policeman, who is only doing his job. He says finally, "I don't have a problem with what you're doing". He looks back at his white Holden police car adding, "You might just be right."


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