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Fun in the Sun With Power of One

Breaking News

The Power of One, or XOF1, is the brainchild of 40 year old Marcelo da Luz, a Brazilian-born Canadian inventor and flight attendant, who began designing the fully solar-powered XOF1 in 1999 with the goal of setting the world distance record for a solar vehicle.
power of one solar car
images from Power of One
by Ross Bonander

Specs:

  • Type: Dedicated solar vehicle
  • Manufacturer: Inventor Marcelo da Luz
  • Propulsion system: NGM Corp 84-108V Brushless DC motor
  • Top Speed: 75 mph (120 km/h)
  • Zero-to-85 km/h: 6 seconds
  • Vehicle range (sunny day): 310 miles (500 km)
  • Vehicle range (at night): 124 miles (200 km)
  • Fuel(s): Sunlight
  • Solar cell type: 893 SolarWorld mono-crystalline cells,15% efficiency
  • Battery pack: 27 lithium ion polymer cells (3.996 kwh total)
  • Time to full battery recharge: NA
  • Price: NA
  • Availability: NA

The manufacturer says

"Inspired by the sun, motivated by the environment."

Overview

The Power of One, or XOF1, is the brainchild of 40 year old Marcelo da Luz, a Brazilian-born Canadian inventor and flight attendant, who began designing the fully solar-powered XOF1 in 1999 with the goal of setting the world distance record for a solar vehicle.

The XOF1, which requires the driver to lay on his back and resembles—you can't deny it—a flying saucer from the 1940s—has a 2+1 wheel configuration; the chassis is made out of polyurethane foam covered in Fiberglas and reinforced with carbon fiber, and the body is made from light foam covered in Fiberglas. The total weight of the XOF1 is just 660 lbs (300 kg) including the driver, It uses custom tank style steering and lacks a rearview mirror; instead a micro camera feeds an image to De Luz by way of a portable viewer.

The Record-Setting Trip

On June 12th 2008, Da Luz set out on his epic adventure from Seneca College in Toronto, Ontario. Although the original plan had been to drive from Buffalo, NY to Inuvik, NT before returning to Buffalo, several cities and communities wanted the XOF1 to cruise through their neighborhoods, causing Da Luz to alter his plans—at considerable personal expense. Yet as a consequence, since his June 2008 departure, the XOF1 has gone as far north as the Arctic Circle and as far south as Los Angeles, CA; it's travelled over 30,000 kilometers (19,000 miles), crossed the continental divide several times and endured every imaginable kind of weather and roads ranging from pavement to gravel.

And in all that time, across all those miles, the XOF1 never once required even a single watt from the grid. The sun powered the entire trip.

Conclusions

Although Da Luz has enjoyed an enormous amount of press, and the vehicle has garnered attention everywhere it's travelled (earning at least one 911 call about a UFO on the road), the lengthy trip has been costly to Da Luz, both personally (his girlfriend left him) and financially (he refinanced his home to help pay for the vehicle; Da Luz told the Palo Alto Online he's spent around $500,000 on the car) and he lost his job as a flight attendant.

In short, let's hope Da Luz's experience doesn't discourage other would-be visionaries from pursuing a similarly noble goal.

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