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Venezuela: Homemade solar cars in an oil country

He would like to produce them in series in this oil country where gasoline sells for almost nothing but where shortages are frequent, the country plunged into crisis having trouble refining enough oil for its own needs.

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Venezuela: Homemade solar cars in an oil country

He would like to produce them in series in this oil country where gasoline sells for almost nothing but where shortages are frequent, the country plunged into crisis having trouble refining enough oil for its own needs.

In Maracaibo (north-west), yet the cradle of the oil industry, the absence of gasoline has been recurrent for 10 years even if the situation has improved in recent weeks.

"I needed to do some shopping to keep my business (restaurant) open and active. The first thing I did was modify a golf cart I had been given," he says. at AFP.

The first model he developed used a fuel-efficient motorcycle engine, but "I was still dependent on gasoline." He then used electric batteries. His prototype was capable of reaching a speed of 40 km/h and traveling 100 km per day while recharging on 110-volt household current.

But, power cuts being frequent, he looked in his small workshop for another solution. "In Maracaibo, there is the sun (...) so we made a cart with solar panels" which he placed on the car, he explains.

- led by the President -

The result is a hybrid vehicle that can go from fuel to electric and from electric to solar power.

The filmmaker, who made himself famous with his film "Joligud" (pun with Hollywood), released in 1990 and shot in Maracaibo, now hopes to move from craftsmanship to big production.

He is seeking government funding and authorization to mass-produce his solar cars.

President Nicolas Maduro, during an official event, drove one of these cars, black, with blue rays painted on the bodywork. "100% Venezuelan technology", even launched President Maduro.

"The big dream would be to be able to produce them, from scratch, in Venezuela. I think it's possible," hopes Mr. Pradelli.

His cars cost between 5,000 and 7,500 dollars, which is the average price of a used vehicle in the country. In the long run, however, the fuel and maintenance savings make it a worthwhile investment, he says.

"A (battery) pack costs up to $2,500, but if you know how to manage it, it can last three to five years. I've already saved $3,000 for each car," Pradelli insists.

He swears that maintenance is very simple because these "made in Maracaibo" hybrids have neither carburetor nor alternator.

And he claims they are safe, indicating that conclusive tests have been carried out at the mechanical engineering faculty of the local University of Zulia (LUZ).

"They are small, but even if they look fragile, if you have an accident, you will not be killed," he promises.

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