TEDx Geneva: Louis Palmer — Solartaxi, around the world with solar power [en]

Louis PalmerSolartaxi: Around the world with solar power

Went around the world in a solar car, in a year and a half, from Lucerne. Louis got this idea when he was 11: go around the world without fuel! At 14, he was certain everybody would be driving solar cars. In 2004 he still couldn’t buy a solar car!

So he decided to build his own car. He’s a schoolteacher, not an engineer. He didn’t have the money, but had the will to do it. Went to factories, got parts and pieces, approached Lucerne university to develop the car (1 year had students working on it). After two years the car was there.


July 3rd 2007, the trip started. Louis didn’t really know which way to go. He published his tour on the internet, and invited people to welcome him and host him. Invited by the united nations, and asked to make a presentation. First time in history that a car entered the united nations!

Then invited to the global warming conference. 110 press conferences, he had the Swiss embassies with him, they helped with contacts.

He called it a taxi because many people travelled with him. You can even shift the steering wheel from left to right so the passenger to drive 🙂

Syria. He was told to beware, but nothing happened. Friendly people but his first accident. Somebody crashed into his car. He met the Syrian transport minister and told him about the accident, and the minister gave him a police escort so it would not happen again!

Everybody was waiting for the solar taxi! Prince Hassan of Jordan wanted a test drive. (Video sequence with armed military running after the car, hehe.)

He was escorted all around Saudi Arabia, the country you can’t get a visa for.

India, with Hell’s Angels escorting him through Bombay. Lots of traffic accidents in India. He had an accident there, which was filmed (pure coincidence). Great Indian video sequence. People are fascinated. Huge media coverage while driving through India.

Four months later, in Bali, for the opening of the UN climate change conference. Solartaxi on CNN! Then invited by Greenpeace, who took them down the Australia and New Zealand. In Australia, only one person at the press conference (the Swiss ambassador!) — stark contrast to the very positive and enthusiastic response from the press all over the world. Australia? Huge producer of coal, export to China. No investment in solar energy. Very disappointed.

What about China? Solar panels on every rooftop! Petrol bikes aren’t allowed in big cities anymore. Red carpet reception for the Solartaxi. Yay! 635 press articles in China, absolute record. They do the most. Hope!

Japan: they refused the Solartaxi because Swiss license plates aren’t allowed.

USA? Didn’t know what to expect. Great media coverage. Helicopters following him in Los Angeles. Very open-minded stars in Hollywood, very easy to meet them! Headshots of a bunch of celebs in the Solartaxi.

  • Corn: 36K km
  • Solar power: 25’000K km with the Solartaxi

Whee, had the secretary general of the UN in the Solartaxi for 15 minutes in New York (with escort and press reception of course).

Poland: exactly one year ago, last climate change conference, the journey ends. BBC and all over the news.

Louis isn’t stopping here! He wants to continue. He’s now setting up a race for existing cars in 80 days. Green energy cars, batteries charged with renewable energy. Has 13 teams so far. Siemens even wants to send the first ever electric-powered truck around the world.

Departure? 1st July 2010 in Shanghai, China (Wold Expo).

Louis has a lot on his hands, and welcomes any help that can be given. Volunteers, etc. Just contact him.