Category Archives: Zero Race

Geneva, again!

On 16 August last year we drove out of the UN Palais des Nations and headed east. Yesterday at 11:00 am, after 80 days of driving, we arrived back at the Palais, having driven around the world.

Our aim in building Trev, and in driving around the world in Zero Race, was to demonstrate that it is possible to build practical vehicles that use clean energy, and use a lot less energy than conventional cars.  We have driven from Geneva to Shanghai, from Vancouver to Cancun, and from Casablanca back to Geneva. We have driven across deserts and across mountains, through remote rural areas and through some of the world’s largest cities, on all types of roads, in all types of weather. The energy cost of the journey was less than $400 worth of electricity generated from a wind farm. The net emissions were zero.

Australians are amongst the world’s highest emitters of CO2, per person. Our energy use is high, and we generate almost all of that energy from fossil fuels. Over the next 40 years we need to reduce our per-capita emissions by 95%. To achieve this, we need vehicles like Trev.

Over the next few days will will give Trev a good clean, pack it into a crate, and ship it back to Australia. When it gets back, we will continue refining it to make it more comfortable (it is quiet outside the car, but not so quiet inside the car), more efficient (there are still some efficiency improvements we can make to the motor controller), and easier to build. It is not yet ready for the showroom. But it has shown what is possible, and hopefully will make people think about how they will get around in a future without cheap oil and with an atmosphere that cannot take any more CO2.

Arrival in Cancun, Mexico!

In the three weeks since the blog has been updated, Trev and the rest of Zero Race has travelled all the way through the USA, has crossed into Mexico, and has just arrived at the World Climate Change conference in Cancun!

Zero Race arrives in Cancun

Our arrival completes the second leg of the Zero Emissions Race around the world and more than 23,000 km of driving since leaving Geneva in August.

Trev has been driven through North America from Vancouver to Cancun by Nick and Andrew, who have put in an enormous effort to overcome challenges such as reliable charging access, long driving days, cold weather, troubles with Trev’s motor controller, Mexican speed bumps and potholes up to half a metre across and 30 cm deep! A very tired Andrew and Nick have now been joined in Cancun by Peter, and the rest of Team Trev are hugely proud of their efforts.

Trev will help spread the message in Cancun that we need to be developing alternative means of travel with low carbon emissions and low energy use. In a few days’ time we will put Trev on a ship back to Europe for the final leg of Zero Race, arriving back at the start line at the UN headquarters in Geneva in late January.

There have been many highlights of the trip through North America. We will  write about these in future blog posts, coming soon.

We are very grateful for the ongoing support of our sponsors who have helped us get this far: UniSA, Google Australia, Galaxy Resources, EcoGreen Electrical, Design Ecology, ABN Newswire and Catcon.

North American leg gets underway from Vancouver

When Trev and the other Zero Race vehicles were unloaded from the ship from Shanghai, we were apprehensive about any damage they may have sustained, but we were relieved to find all the vehicles undamaged. Not a scratch, in fact!

Nick and Andrew had arrived in Vancouver carrying spare parts from Australia: a new rear wheel, spare shock absorbers, software updates and various spare circuit boards. They had a couple of days to inspect for any damage to Trev from the long drive from Geneva to Shanghai, to perform some technical upgrades, to get the official paperwork sorted for our North American drive and to sort out an array of electrical sockets  and chargers for the different power outlets we anticipate in North America. Busy busy.

Athlete's Village, Vancouver (courtesy of Zero Race)

The North American leg commenced at the Athlete’s Village in Vancouver on Friday 12th November, and headed south to Seattle, where we participated in the Seattle International Motor Show. From there it was down to Portland in Oregon, driving through beautiful, thickly forested landscapes. It has been wet and misty, which isn’t ideal weather for electric vehicles, but so far so good.

Zero Race vehicles with the eVaro EV (courtesy of Zero Race)

Trev at the Seattle International Motor Show (courtesy of Zero Race)

We have been overwhelmed with the  enthusiasm from supporters and hosts along the way so far in North America. It’s great being able to speak the same language (unlike most of the first leg of Zero Race), and there have been electric vehicle associations who have been very generous to the Zero Race teams. Vancouver, Seattle and Portland are at the forefront of sustainable transport innovation, and it was great learning about the electric vehicle charging facilities they’re installing in advance of the first wave of mass produced electric vehicles, which are just starting to appear on the streets.

Andrew, our newest Team Trev Zero Race driver (courtesy of Zero Race)

More video from Berlin

Trev has just arrived by ship in Vancouver, and should hopefully clear customs tomorrow. The next leg of Zero Race starts on Friday.

In the meantime, here is some more video of Trev in Berlin, being repaired and being driven.

Trev being repaired in Berlin

Video from Berlin

While we are waiting for Trev to cross the Pacific Ocean, here is some video from Berlin:

First into Shanghai!

Trev has arrived in Shanghai, and has therefore completed the first of the three major legs of Zero Race. We’ve now driven about 16,000km on our journey since departing Geneva on August 16th.

Driving into Shanghai

Driving into Shanghai

If we wanted to be cheeky, we’d claim that Trev was first across the line into Shanghai and therefore the winner of the first leg of Zero Race, but it’s not that simple. ZeroTracer has consistently been the fastest and most reliable competitor so far, being a high performance, highly refined production vehicle. Trev, on the other hand, is a prototype built by keen amateurs, and is designed for urban commuting rather than circumnavigations, so we’re thrilled at how Trev is performing. Team Vectrix is also doing a fabulous job, overcoming electrical issues to remain in the race.

Zero Race participants in Shanghai

Zero Race participants in Shanghai

Motorcycles aren’t allowed on the Chinese motorways, so ZeroTracer and Team Vectrix have often been forced onto the secondary roads. Trev has been able to remain on the motorways though because it is a car instead of motorcycle, despite the rules banning three wheeled vehicles. Trev looks like a normal car from the front, so by the time tollbooth operators realise that Trev has only three wheels, we’ve already driven off.

Trev turns heads in China

Trev turns heads in China

Congratulations to all Zero Race participants and organisers in making it to Shanghai safely and on schedule. We look forward to the next leg of our journey, across North America to Cancun in Mexico, in time for the UN Climate Change Conference in late November.

Trev in Shanghai

Trev in Shanghai

Trev, ZeroTracer, Team Vectrix and the Zero Race support vehicle have been loaded into a shipping container, and will shortly be loaded onto a ship bound for Vancouver. Zero Race recommences in Vancouver on November the 5th.

Being loaded into the shipping container

Being loaded into the shipping container

Cruising across China

Ours fears of being forced onto secondary roads across China proved unwarranted – Zero Race vehicles are allowed on major highways so we’re all proceeding a-pace along the 5,000km towards Shanghai.

Chinese highway (courtesy of Zero Race)

Chinese highway (courtesy of Zero Race)

We’ve been driving big distances through vast desert landscapes. Trev has just set its new record for the distance driven on one charge: 260km. This is about what we’d designed Trev to achieve, but we’ve previously only been able to manage about 200km.

Vast desert landscapes (courtesy of Zero Race)

Vast desert landscapes (courtesy of Zero Race)

At Jiayaguan we visited the Great Wall of China, at the westernmost section of the Ming Great Wall. It is also the only part of the Great Wall which crosses the ancient Silk Route, which has been our driving route since Almaty in Kazakhstan. Dickson even managed to try out a local renewable energy vehicle (a.k.a. a camel).

Dickson tries a local renewable energy vehicle (courtesy of Zero Race)

Dickson tries a local renewable energy vehicle (courtesy of Zero Race)

Dickson is spending long long hours in the cockpit, keeping the kilometres ticking over and staying on schedule to arrive in Shanghai this Thursday. With any luck he will meet up in Danyang with representatives from our sponsor Galaxy Resources for an opportunity to drive Trev into Shanghai.

Truck stop noodles (courtesy of Zero Race)

Truck stop noodles (courtesy of Zero Race)

Benefactor Keith Drake

Whilst Trev is largely out of contact, driving through  remote stretches of north western China, we’ll take the opportunity to introduce a valued member of Team Trev: Benefactor Keith Drake from Queensland.

Keith at the Zero Race start in Geneva

Keith at the Zero Race start in Geneva

Keith heard about Team Trev through an ABC TV news story in January 2010. Keith has a long interest in sustainability, and had invested in a cleantech venture many years ago. He made contact with us and he generously agreed to become the founding Benefactor of Team Trev.

Besides Keith’s financial contribution to Team Trev, he has also generously supported us with his time and energy. He spent a week in Adelaide shortly before Trev’s departure for Europe, and spent long hours in the workshop affixing lightweight lining to Trev’s interior to make it more comfortable and presentable. This was a job which we’d always intended to do but always had other pressing technical problems to solve, so it was a godsend for Keith to take charge of this task.

Keith also flew to Europe via Adelaide before the start of Zero Race, and he lugged a large, heavy suitcase full of spare parts to Trev in  Switzerland. Then, before he could recover from jetlag, he was thrust into the frenetic activities involved with preparating for Zero Race and then the first days of the race itself.

To make matters even more challenging, several days into the race, Keith’s seat in the support van became occupied by Zero Race photographers so he was left behind to fend for himself. At that stage Trev was experiencing great technical difficulties and needed to withdraw from the race to undertake repairs in Berlin, so Keith didn’t get a chance to drive Trev in Zero Race, as intended.

With Trev’s technical difficulties largely resolved, and with the next leg of Zero Race in North America on the horizon, we hope that Keith can finally get to experience the thrill of driving Trev in the first race around the world for electric vehicles powered by renewable energy.

Into China

On the weekend Trev crossed the border into north western China. So begins the final push of the first leg of Zero Race.

Zero Race participants at the Chinese border

Zero Race participants at the Chinese border (courtesy of Zero Race)

We need to drive 5,000km in 10 days to reach Shanghai on schedule, which means an average of 500km per day. This is a lot actually – Trev can drive about 200km between charges so realistically it means three stops per day to recharge. These stops are often in random, out of the way places and require negotiations with locals to plug into electrical outlets, generally without the benefit of speaking the same language. If the electrical outlets are poor, we can’t get enough current to charge the batteries in a reasonable timeframe, so generally we unplug and search for a better outlet. This can be a very time consuming process.

When the Zero Race vehicles get out of Chinese customs this morning, they all need to be recharged from virtually empty, and they’ll learn whether they can drive on the main highways across China or whether they have to stay on secondary roads. This will make a big difference to the speed and quality of travel and the amount of time behind the wheel. It could be a very long and demanding 10 days.

Across Kazakhstan

Last week Trev completed its crossing of Russia. Dickson successfully adopted a ‘laid back Aussie approach’ towards negotiations with Russian policemen.

Dickson's laid back approach to Russian policemen

Dickson's laid back approach to Russian policemen (courtesy of Zero Race)

After a border crossing which involved great confusion at the lack of numbers on Trev’s registration plate, the Zero Race participants crossed into Kazakhstan, ahead of a very demanding week’s driving.

Entry into Kazakhstan

Entry into Kazakhstan (courtesy of Zero Race)

The conditions of Kazakh roads have been all extremes. Brand new, virtually empty motorways were followed by some incredibly bad roads which gave Trev a brutal physical workover and damaged the rear shock absorber. Trev’s three wheeled design makes it difficult to avoid pot holes – Trev was designed for urban commuting rather than circumnavigation, after all, but the car is holding up very well so far.

Rough roads

Rough roads

Damaged shock absorber

Damaged shock absorber (courtesy of Zero Race)

Kazakhstan’s wide open steppes saw it being used as the location for much of the former Soviet Union’s nuclear testing program, leaving Kazakhstan with the legacy of having some of the most radioactive and polluted places on earth. Zero Race drove very close to some of these areas, and stayed overnight in a building once used as a sanatorium for children affected by radiation. Dickson has been on alert for any signs of Trev glowing green in the dark, and wishes he packed his lead undergarments.

Despite all the many challenges of driving through this part of the world, the welcome from local towns and communities has been very warm and hospitable. Dickson even managed to score the attention of some of some local Kazakh beauties.

Dickson meets the locals

Dickson meets the locals (courtesy of Zero Race)

This weekend Zero Race enters China.