Space Age Solar Car Braves Far Polar Canadian North

It’s the kind of terrain normally reserved for only the hardiest of vehicles–mostly huge trucks, bringing supplies to far-flung northern communities. But this month, a decidedly different vehicle made the trip from  Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk, two degrees above the Arctic Circle in Canada’s Western Northwest Territories–a lightweight, solar-powered electric car called the Xof1.

The Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk “ice road” is only accessible during winter months, presumably when mud and slush are not an issue. Marcelo da Luz, the driver/owner of this fantastically space-age-styled solar car, left Inuvik  with a full charge but barely coasted in on “solar fumes” to Tuktoyaktuk later that day. The car had to face gaping cracks in the ice that damaged its tires, sending a chase team out to change them four times in 9.5 hours. There were challenges for the driver as well, as this single passenger vehicle lacks an onboard heater and temperatures dipped down to just 14 degrees Farenheit. The Canadian solar car weighs just under 500 pounds and tops out at around 74 miles per hour.


image via Edmonton Journal

Why Mr. da Luz chose this treacherous stretch of frozen road to test the stuff of the Xof1 remains unclear, but it would seem that the driver is intent to take the car any and everywhere. According to the Edmonton Journal, the 41-year-old resident of Toronto has driven more than 21,000 miles over the last two years and is planning the car’s next trip to Argentina.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.

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