The Tour de Sol Reports, 2006
Sponsored by The AutoAuditorium System

Unless otherwise noted, these all photos were taken by and Copyright 2006 to John Helwig.

Tour de Sol 2006 Photos

This is the main page for collections of photographs from the 2006 Tour de Sol.

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First Photographs

Here are some early photographs of the entrants as they showed up for technical testing on Wednesday, May 10th.

The Attack, from West Philadelphia High School, runs on biodiesel. Originally conceived as a through-the-road parallel hybrid, this year it is running strictly as an alternative fuel vehicle. By next year they hope to complete the front-wheel electric drive.

Fledge, from the Delhi College of Engineering in India. A parallel hybrid conceived, researched, designed, and built by 7 friends at Delhi College, with help from parents, technology and equipment companies, and the Indian government. The team members have already won the prize for the most disrupted biological clocks.

eVermont, from the eVermont projects, is another take on the battery-electric vehicle. This time a Zebra is married with Azure Dynamics (nee Solectria) a drive system in a Toyota Echo.

Take a 1976 British Austin Mini Clubman, drop in a Peugeot diesel engine, plumb it for both biodiesel and vegetable oil operation with components from Greasecar Vegetable Fuel Systems, and you have something quite cute and unique.

The Lorax, from Methacton High School in Norristown Pennsylvania returns, with a keep-the-sun-off-me roof.

The Olympian returns, this time with a combination of lead-acid and lithium ion batteries. It is a joint project of Burlington County Institute of Technology and Burlington County Community College.

Originally built for the American Solar Challenge, Keystone from the University of Pennsylvania's Penn Solar Car Team makes its first appearance at the Tour. (Don't worry. The wheels are around here someplace!)

The rEVolutionride van has been in daily service on North Haven Island off the coast of Maine since 1972. It also is a valuable teaching tool. Yes, those are battery boxes under the bench seats.

The St Mark's EV Club built Woodstock as a demonstration both of a battery-electric truck that had practical use in and around campus, but also as an example of using solar energy without owning solar panels. They buy their electrons from certified "green" energy suppliers.

Take a stock Volkswagen Jetta TDI, run it on 100% biodiesel produced on campus from leftover vegetable oil from the St Mark's School's food service and you have Moritz, an environmental education tool and economical practical transportation.

Sunpacer is a perennial. This entrant from Cato-Meridian High School's Technology Club, Cato NY, has shown slow and steady progress since 1992.

As the name suggests, Viking32 has a long pedigree. Western Washington University Hybrid Club's entry runs on biomethane captured from landfills. Methane is many times more damaging a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, so this vehicle lowers greenhouse pollution as it drives.

Some of us think the Vogelbilt battery-electric motorcycle sounds the way all motorcycles should sound. No roar; just a whisper.

But when Carl Vogel cannot ride his electric hog, he hops into his Ford F250 (also named Vogelbilt) which has spent the past 3 years using nothing but B100 biodiesel.

The Zodiac hails from West Irondequoit High School in Rochester New York. Another solar-electric vehicle with a long history at the Tour de Sol, it also has a history of steady refinement.

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Photos: The Fledge

Seven young engineers explore the idea of an Indian designed and built hybrid car.

Team Portrait

The windscreen sits a bit forward and up to help direct air into the intake for the engine. direct

The roll bar is now in place. Here you can also see the center console that contains the 4-speed transmission and ducts fan-driven air from the front to the rear. The clutch pedal is to the left, brake and accelerator to the right.

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eVermont returns after a long absence with another take on the idea of "station car."

Look Ma! No tail pipe!

EVers always try to find a clever place to put the plug.

If you are familiar with the Solectria Force, you'll find this similar. The bar between the shock absorber towers supports the motor. The controller sits on top of the front battery box between the front wheel wells.

The trunk contains the rear battery pack and battery support components.

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Carl's collection of Tour de Sol vehicles.

The F-250 has been on a biodiesel diet since it was purchased.

Now this sounds like _I_ think a motorcycle should sound ...

and looks like _I_ think a motorcycle should look.

Carl always brings his Elec-Trak lawn tractor to the Tour de Sol, but we haven't found a category to enter it in. It would probably win by default.

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Driving on used vegetable oil takes a waste product and turns it into a fuel when the car uses the Greasecar conversion kit.

This restored Mini Clubman does not look 26 years old.

If it wasn't for the signage, you might not notice that this car has both a left and right fuel cap. (All the Tour de Sol entrants have to demonstrate safe handling characteristics, hence this zig-zag-through-the-cones test. You kissed one! But it is still in the circle, so you're OK.)

This Mercedes Diesel uses essentially the same Greascar fuel system as the Mini.

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Woodstock and Moritz

One battery electric EV + one biodiesel TDI Jetta = one Hybrid Driveway
or so says the new math.

Woodstock, the battery electric EV of the equation.

Motitz, the biodiesel TDI Jetta.

One way to get accurate fuel usage measurements is to have a removable fuel tank and to weigh it. Moritz has such a tank.

It is hard to read the bumper sticker in this photo, but it says "Powered By American Electrons".

Ken Wells makes the case for the EV half of the Hybrid Driveway ...

and the biodiesel half.

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Turbo Insights

Some think the Honda Insight looks faster than it is. By turbocharging them, appearance and reality align.

Willie explains his modifications.

A closer view.

Jack discusses his variation on the theme.

An important part of the Tour de Sol is the exchange of ideas between the participants.

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Solaqua Sound GEM

Yet another take on the idea of Sound on Wheels.

This looks like a car stereo nut's fantasy or a boomboxphobe's nightmare.

The circular disk in the center is one of those discharge displays (is Seven-of-Nine here?) and the rectangle is an LED light organ.

From the other side you have access to the controls.

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Starfire Systems

Starblade ceramic brake rotors claim superior performance with reduced weight.

A Ducati Monster motorcycle used as the Starblade test vehicle.

The Chevy Tahoe, also used in testing.

Comparing the cast iron to the ceramic brake rotor. Note that the iron rotor has cooling voids, where the ceramic rotor is solid.

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Roosevelt Island Hybrid Transit Bus

This was easily the biggest hybrid at the Tour de Sol this year.

The hybrid buses in service on Roosevelt Island are low-floor, kneeling and wheelchair ramp equipped. The box on the roof holds the batteries.

It still looks cramped, but the word is these buses are easier to work on.

The view inside, looking to the rear.

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Electrovaya maya-200

Soon to be seen on the roads of Norway ...

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Can a Prius be turned into a Plug-In Prius in two hours?

It just might be possible.

The all-in-one unit fits neatly in the spare tire well and storage area under the rear deck cover.

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This has been a vehicle with staying power, in the Tour de Sol since 1992.

I just noticed the overhead rear view mirror, mounted top-center on the windshield.

Opened up for service. Notice that the older solar panels can be stored below the back array. A Tour de Sol rule allows solar vehicles to use extra panels for charging when stopped provided they are carried by the vehicle during the event.

If you've built a Junior Solar Sprint car, you might recognize these solar cells.

Here you can see the sort of stress the wheels are subjected to during the "cone test" that evaluates the vehicle's handling.

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Zodiac is ready to start the hill-climb test. The little window below the Peak Performance logo lets the driver see the nose of the car and the road immediately in front of it.

The motor is mounted directly above the rear wheel, driven by a chain.

With the side off you can see some of the batteries (with the yellow tops).

The solar teams are particularly popular when the students visit, especially if they have been to the Junior Solar Sprints.

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When electricity is 30 cents a kiloWatt-hour and gasoline even more expensive on your island, what do you do? You run your van on sunlight!

Notice the small solar panel on the roof. The bulk of the solar recharging current comes from the 5.2 kiloWatt panel on the school's roof.

Putting the batteries under the bench seats makes lots of sense. The weight is closer to the center of gravity of the vehicle, and yet getting to and working on the batteries is simple.

Here is the extra battery box, with its two extra batteries and a secret feminine touch. This too is easy to get at.

The co-conspirators.

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Green Grand Prix June 2, 2006

This is not part of the Tour de Sol, but is co-sponsored by NESEA. The photo of the poster tells the story, and the details are at

The Second Annual Green Grand Prix will be held in Watkins Glen, NY on June 2, 2006. The Green Grand Prix features a road rally of Hybrid and Alternative Fueled Vehicles (AFV) held on an 84-mile course following the perimeter of beautiful Seneca Lake in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York. The road rally will bring together Hybrid and AFV owners for a fun and exciting educational event emphasizing fuel economy. By holding The Green Grand Prix rally the same weekend as the Watkins Glen Indy Grand Prix; we hope to increase public awareness of environmentally friendly vehicles and to offer another activity for visitors coming to the area for the race.

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Another in the long line of Viking research vehicles from Western Washington University.

Starting up the hill climb.

Explaining the biomethane filtering process to the press.

The fuel tank and engine are seen in the rear. The engine drives the rear wheels. The electric drive is on the front wheels.

The parallel lines are the tops of hexagonal carbon fiber tubing that is part of the crash energy absorbing system in the front of the car. Note that the door is hinged at the rear.

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Miles Automotive ZX40

A simple, practical battery electric vehicle for neighborhood and off-road use.

Under the hood is not very crowded.

The rear batteries hide below the floor.

The interior looks comfortable.

The roof luggage racks cost $175 extra.

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This sharp looking car is the latest in a long line of Tour de Sol entries.

Definitely a car that turns heads.

The original plan was to have the front wheels driven by the electric half of the hybrid. Maybe next year.

The B100 biodiesel engine drives the rear wheels.

On display at the Saratoga Automobile Museum's Spring Auto Show.

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Paul O'Brien

Paul O'Brien (center) is presented with the Tour de Sol's 2006 George Bradford Teacher Award by Nancy Hazard (left) and Jim Dunn.

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Honda FCX

Last year the Honda FCX's were newly leased to New York State. Now they have accumulated a year of experience.

Honda's Fuel Cell powered FCX.

Opened up for inspection. Note the hole in the side view mirror; I wonder why?

Under the hood.

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Drew and Barbara Gillett

Looooong time volunteers at the Tour de Sol, Barabara and Drew are often behind the scenes. This year they took one of the first-place prizes in the Monte-Carlo Style Fuel Efficiency Rally.

This should have been their moment in the sun, but ...