GENEVA - Two drivers, three wheels, $350 and zero carbon emissions.
That's how Australian father-and-son team Nick and Jason Jones hope to circle the globe in their custom built electric vehicle.
The duo joined teams from Germany and Switzerland on Monday for the start of a round-the-world race aimed at showcasing green technologies.
The aim is to complete the 18,642-mile trip without pumping carbon into the atmosphere, a goal that Louis Palmer, the race organizer, believes can be done.
Palmer should know. Two years ago the Swiss inventor and former schoolteacher completed his own round-the-world trip in a solar-powered taxi without using a single drop of gas.
"Technology has developed a lot since then," Palmer told reporters as the vehicles lined up at the U.N.'s European headquarters in Geneva. "These are capable of doing 500 kilometers (about 300 miles) a day."
The race - which will be measured in points for style, technology and popularity rather than speed - will pass through 150 cities, including Berlin, Moscow, Shanghai, Los Angeles and Cancun, the Mexican resort where governments are going to hold a global climate change meeting at the end of November.
Participants will charge their vehicles from regular power outlets along the way, offsetting their consumption by pumping electricity into the grid from solar and wind plants back at home.
Swiss competitor Toby Wuelser says his futuristic design can do more than 200 miles on a single charge and reach speeds up to 150 miles an hour.
"It's like flying half a meter (20 inches) above the ground," he said before boarding the bullet-shaped vehicle and zipping silently up the hill to the starting line.
Sandra Lust, from Berlin, is competing on a souped-up electric scooter.
"There are some fancy electrics and a bigger battery inside, but otherwise it's the same" as the production model that can already be bought for about $11,000, she said.
The Joneses, who have already taken part in races across Australia and enjoy sponsorship from search engine company Google Inc., said they have no plans to mass-produce their car. But all the plans to do so are available on the team website for others to follow, said Jason Jones.
The team says its vehicle is so efficient it will pay just $350 for the electricity needed to circle the globe.
Palmer said the racers will pass through 16 countries.
On the Web
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