Solar Fern driver Rob Glassey squeezes into the cockpit of the solar powered-car at Parliament, Wellington. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Solar Fern driver Rob Glassey squeezes into the cockpit of the solar powered-car at Parliament, Wellington. Photo / Mark Mitchell

It's held together with bungy cords and gaffer tape but has a top speed of 120km/h. Running on nothing more than sunshine, its fuel economy is unbeatable.
The New Zealand designed and made Solar Fern solar-powered car drove on to Parliament's forecourt yesterday before beginning the second half of a trip from Bluff to Cape Reinga.
The car was built in 2007 by a group of friends to compete in Australia's Solar Challenge solar-powered vehicle race the same year.
However, the sleekly aerodynamic, fully registered and warranted three-wheeled vehicle is back out on the road this week to raise publicity and draw sponsorship for a proposed New Zealand solar car race.
Solar Fern team member Edward Pilbrow said the proposed race would be an extreme event.
"New Zealand's got mountains, hills, rain and all sorts of things you often don't get in other countries where they have solar car races."
Mr Pilbrow and his friends believe the race would draw competitors from around the world, most of whom would be fielding vehicles far more advanced than the Solar Fern.
German vehicle SolarWorld GT, which recently toured New Zealand after competing in this year's Solar Challenge, sports high efficiency photo voltaic panels worth $600,000.
The Solar Fern's panels are factory-seconds bought for $2000. Team leader Rob Glassey estimated the materials for the vehicle cost about $20,000, but including labour the vehicle had cost about $500,000 to make.
A fair amount of ingenuity went into the car's design and construction and while it contains no No 8 wire it does have bungy cords and "a lot of gaffer tape".
The vehicle cruises at 60km/h or slower when it is charging its 192 batteries which provide its high performance wheelchair motor with extra power for getting up hills, and for overtaking, when it can reach speeds of up to 120km/h.
Mr Glassey estimated that over the first half of the trip the vehicle had generated and consumed about 17 kilowatt hours of electricity - about $2 worth.
Greens energy spokesman Gareth Hughes said it was fantastic to see the vehicle yesterday.
"It's the new path we should be going down but instead the Government's got its head in the sand with regards to the price of oil in the future and instead has a plan to borrow $20 billion to pour into new roads."
He said the proposed solar vehicle race was something the Government could get behind to "show leadership to stimulate a new industry".
"It's exciting. We could be world leaders in electric car technology but we need to grasp the opportunity."
By Adam Bennett