Detroit 2008: X Prize contender will add solar thermal collectors, PV panels, wind turbines to old Blazer

You can probably guess that the photo above was not taken anywhere near Cobo Hall during the Detroit Auto Show. Nope, that green Chevy Blazer is sitting in Lake Havasu, Arizona. The connection to Detroit is that Jim Stansbury, the founder and CEO of the Physics Lab of Lake Havasu, was in town to talk up his team's official contender status in the Automotive X Prize. Stansbury and Audrey Perry, the lab's VP of marketing, sat down with AutoblogGreen for about 20 minutes yesterday to describe why they think a modified Chevy Blazer (!) with a few off-the-shelf parts has a chance to win the Prize. Do you want to reread that? A Chevy Blazer as the green car for the new millennium? How is this possible? The best way to learn is to give Stansbury a listen here (19 min, 13MB).

Stansbury's idea is to convert the large Blazer into an electric vehicle and then outfit the beast with a few different technologies that will all "absorb the energy around us, namely the sun" and power the batteries. These technologies include small turbines in the front, photovoltaic panels on the sides and solar thermal collectors on the roof. What do the collectors do? They heat water to power a stirling engine that generates electricity. All this "free" energy will power electric motors in the front and the back of the Blazer. Oh, and one more thing: the Havasu team wants to place wings below the batteries and on the roof to exploit ground effect and provide lift.

All in all, this is a very interesting project. I'll update this post with some more info once I get to a scanner (UPDATE: you can read what the Lab thinks the technology will cost by reading this letter). For now, enjoy the interview with Stansbury and contemplate just what it would mean if a freakin' Chevy Blazer won the Auto X Prize.

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