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April 21, 2011

Toronto man towing solar car in stunt to legalize it

CARS/CANADA - Toronto man Marcelo da Luz has towed his solar car 160 km from Niagara Falls to Toronto, using a harness strapped to his chest, because the Ontario government won't let him drive the solar car legally on Ontario roads.

The final stretch of manually hauling the vehicle will be to the Ontario Legislature today where he hopes to convince the government to make it street legal. He has been towing the 213-kilogram car an average of 15 kilometres per day.

The 42-year-old from Toronto says the Ontario government has made it virtually impossible to drive it legally in the province.

“Ontario has been fantastic, they have been the leader on so many fronts in terms of sustainability with a lot of green initiatives,” Da Luz said yesterday. “Unfortunately we haven’t seen that leadership in the [Federal] Ministry of Transportation."

“This is an opportunity for us to develop new technology that we could be using every day. Engineers that could be developing projects like this, and secure the technology right here are moving away.”

Da Luz is a flight attendant and spent his life’s savings, mortgaged his home, took out loans, and worked with engineers to build the car in 1999.

Da Luz has since driven it across North America, to the North West Territories, the U.S.-Mexico border, the Florida Keys, and back to Canada. He has broken a world record for distance traveled in a solar car. The solar car can travel about 500 kilometres on a sunny day or 200 kilometres at night, runs on less power than a toaster. It can hit maximum speeds of 120 km/h.

He was once pulled over by police in Alaska when someone called to report a UFO.

Ontario placed a moratorium on solar cars in 2004 after a fatal accident.

Da Luz points out however that fatal accidents in regular cars happen all the time, so one in a solar car shouldn’t mean an outright ban.

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