Technology & Science

Canadian sets distance record in solar car

Toronto native Marcelo da Luz has set a new world distance record by zig-zagging across Canada in his solar-powered car.

Toronto native Marcelo da Luz has set a new world distance record by zig-zagging across Canada in his solar-powered car.

Da Luz arrived in Victoria on Thursday, completing a 15,150-kilometre trek that took 140 days. His journey beat out the previous Guiness record of 15,070 kilometres set in 2004 by a team from the University of Waterloo, who themselves beat a mark set by Australians in January 2002 in their native country.

His record has not yet been recognized by Guiness, but da Luz also says he's not done. He is planning to travel down to Seattle and then California and will keep going for as long as he can afford to. Da Luz is funding his journey independently, without any corporate backing.

"I can only go for as long as I have support," he says. "It's a mix between Forrest Gump and Field of Dreams — if you build it they will come and life is like a box chocolates."

The trip started in Toronto and took da Luz to 44 cities and across Canada twice. His car, called the "Power of One" or Xof1, is a single-seat vehicle that looks more like a UFO on the road. The vehicle cost about half a million dollars to build, can travel 200 kilometres on a single charge and has a top speed of about 120 kilometres an hour.

Da Luz started his project in 1999 as an effort to compete in the annual World Solar Challenge across the Australian Outback. He decided instead in 2002 to beat the Australian team's long-distance record.

His trip ran into some difficulties, including a stop in Edmonton on his way to Inuvik this summer when cloudy skies prevented da Luz from charging his car's batteries.

Da Luz said he built his vehicle independently, without corporate sponsorship, in order to demonstrate how one person can make a difference in helping the environment.

"This project presents an opportunity for individuals from various backgrounds to come together to promote the use of clean and sustainable energy and inspire others to do the same," da Luz wrote on his website.