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Solar racers back in running after accident

A Swiss team in a round-the-world solar race is back in contention, despite losing a couple of days following an accident in Vancouver in which a cyclist was injured.

The Zerotracer, a two-seater electric motorbike with a maximum speed of 240km/h, was giving reporters a test drive in a suburban street when a 50-year-old man on a mountain bike joined the road from a sidepath and didn’t see the vehicle, whose driver Frank Loacker didn’t have enough time to react.

“The cyclist sustained multiple rib fractures and a fractured shoulder,” Alain Brideson from Winterthur-based engineers Designwerk, responsible for the Zerotracer, told “As far as we know, he was released from [the emergency ward].”

Brideson said they were currently talking to the Vancouver Police Department, who confiscated the bike for a couple of days, but further information hadn’t been released about the cyclist.

“The vehicle sustained a broken side window. But the show has gone on. We managed to catch up with the rest of the cars around San Francisco. The Zerotracer’s in perfect working order, fully repaired.”

In August the Zerotracer and three other teams – from Australia, Germany and South Korea – set off from Geneva on an epic 80-day race around the world that aims to be carbon emission-free.

Their 30,000-kilometre Jules Verne-inspired race is set to finish back in Geneva at the end of January. On the way they will stop off in 150 cities including Brussels, Berlin, Moscow, Shanghai, Los Angeles and Cancun for the United Nations climate change meeting at the end of November.

Each vehicle will be charged from regular power outlets along the way. At the same time, the teams are feeding electricity generated from solar and wind plants back home into the grid.

The Zero Race, organised by Swiss teacher Louis Palmer who in 2008 circumnavigated the globe in a solar taxi, is also intended to raise awareness about climate change, mobility and renewable energies.

Zero Race criteria

Competing vehicles are required to:
- be propelled by an electric motor
- drive at least a 250km distance at an average speed equal or above 80km/h
- be able to reach a maximum distance of 500km per day, with a recharge stop of four hours during lunch time
- carry at least two passengers
- use renewable energy produced by solar panels, wind, wave and or geothermal sources in the team’s home country that is then fed into the power grid during the race and accessed via power sockets en route.

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