Local News

High Tech Cars To Electrify Raleigh Streets in June

Posted January 20, 1999

— Some unusual race cars will zoom through Raleigh in June, but the race is as far fromNASCARas you can get.

The cars are quiet and approach speeds of sixty miles an hour. They are forerunners of what you may drive in the future.

It is a race car of the present and the future powered by the sun. More than 50 of the cars will race more than 1,300 miles from Washington, D.C. to Orlando, Fla.

Just enough electricity is generated by the solar panels to power a hair dryer. The current charges batteries powering a six horsepower electric motor.

"It's a small amount of energy, but if you build your car efficiently enough, then that's enough to run a car," said Bob Menke of theOhio StateSunRayce team.

Technology developed for experimental solar powered racers is already finding its way into electric vehicles on the street.

General Motors' Impact is already cruising California. A dozen electric powered Chevy S-10 pick-ups are used byCP&Lin Raleigh.

Even with cheap gasoline, alternative power vehicles are important.

"What alternatives like electric powered vehicles or ethanol fueled vehicles can do is to help improve the atmosphere that you and I and everybody else have to breathe," explained Pat Booher of theU.S. Department of Energy.

Technology tested in the race cars can help Charlotte, the Triad and Triangle which face restrictions.

"Pollution levels have gotten so high that their industrial and economic growth is going to be restricted unless they can find ways to lower their emissions," said Larry Shirley of theNorth Carolina Solar Center.

Promoters of SunRayce '99 hope the solar powered racers will generate more interest in electric cars, so we'll want to just unplug and go.

There's already quite a bit of interest in the Triangle.

The North Carolina Solar Center plans to build an electric car development center, and Raleigh City Councilman Benson Kirkman thinks electric buses could be used downtown.


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