Solar car arrives in Kaohsiung

FREEDOM FROM SMOG:Kaohsiung City made good use of the PR from the arrival of NTU -designed and -built Formosun II to promote a fair of low-emission vehicles

By Chiu Yu-tzu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Mon, Jul 28, 2003 - Page 2

The arrival of a solar-powered car designed by a research team from Taipei-based National Taiwan University (NTU) highlighted a fair aiming to promote low-emission vehicles in Kaohsiung City yesterday.

To tackle air-pollution problems caused by emissions expelled from the 1.03 million registered scooters in the industrial city, the city's Environmental Protection Bureau last weekend held a two-day fair, where consumers were offered discount programs offered by 12 dealers of low-emission vehicles, including electric bicycles and scooters with jet engines.

According to environmental officials, jet-engine-scooter emissions such as carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons are only half of those from conventional engines.

In addition, officials said, scooters with jet engines consumes 18 percent less oil than conventional ones.

Yesterday afternoon, the NTU-designed solar car arrived in Kaohsiung City, mirroring a global trend in the promotion of clean sources of energy.

Chang said that the promotion of clean sources of renewable energy was one of the most important issues in this sector of environmental protection.

"All environmental agencies are tackling air pollution problems. A vehicle powered by solar energy like this one we see here is indeed a dream vehicle for people promoting renewable energy," said Chang Feng-teng (張豐藤), head of the city's Environmental Protection Bureau.

The car, Formosun II, is powered by rechargeable solar batteries. The upper speed limit of the car, costing NT$3 million, is 90kph.

Led by Cheng Jung-ho (鄭榮和), a mechanical-engineering professor at NTU, students spent years designing the car, which marries modern technology and environmental concerns.

Before joining the World Solar Challenge to be held in Australia in October, Formosun II began its local trial last Friday in Taipei.

According to the team, Formosun II improves upon Formosun I, which failed in completing its trail after one of its tires went flat on its way to the south.

According to the team's plan, Formosun II will go all the way to Eluanbi, the southern tip of Taiwan, and return to Taipei by the end of this month.

To encourage students, Chang and Deputy Kaohsiung Mayor Lin Yun-chien (林永堅) yesterday donated NT$20,000 to the team.

According to the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA), there have been 20,000 riders who have taken advantage of subsidies to purchase low-emission scooters with jet engines since the product entered the market in May last year.

Meanwhile, the EPA stopped allocating the budget for subsidies to promote the adoption of electric scooters this year due to the public's cold reaction. Since 1995, there have only 26,000 riders have been using electric scooters.

EPA officials said that consumers complained about bad performance by electric scooters, including heaviness, a short battery life, long recharging times and disappointing sustainability.

The EPA, however, continues to financially support R&D projects pertaining to batteries to be used for electric scooters.