Growing up in Lucerne, Louis Palmer's childhood dream was to travel around the world in a solar-powered car. In 2007 to 2008, his dreams came true. He drove his self-made Solartaxi across 40 countries and several continents, including Asia, Australia and North America.
A Swiss schoolteacher by profession, Louis refers to himself as "an ordinary person, not an engineer, nor a politician." The international awareness his childhood dreams have had, on not only his hometown of Lucerne, but across 72 countries, is truly astounding. I caught up to Louis on the phone in Switzerland, as he had just returned from Austria promoting his latest project (WAVE: World Advanced Vehicle Expedition.)
Louis Palmer: "Which project do you want to talk about?" "We can talk about whichever project (SolarTaxi, SwitchBus or WAVE) or all of them." "Great!" Then, deadpans: "How much time do you have?"
I soon discovered, that this was a classic Louis Palmer answer. His charming, easy-going manner awakens interest in his any of his causes. His message, although very serious --dwindling natural resources, global warming, and other such concerns--is delivered with ease and grace. Palmer refers to his causes as "projects" and his electric car races organized to raise awareness as "fun events."
I originally met Louis and his SolarTaxi in Cambridge, MA in the United States, where he gave a presentation at the prestigious MIT campus. The local Swiss Consulate office had organized an event and spread the word to the Swiss living abroad. The City of Cambridge prides itself in being colloquially referred to as "Silicon Valley of the East"; several high tech inventions have been created here, such as the first online shopping cart. Palmer was already an international Swiss celebrity. His electric car was not just a technological innovation, but also an ingenious marketing concept. Palmer would pick up almost anyone from local hitchhikers to princes and politicians, drawing media attention en route and at every destination. People from all walks of life--from famous entertainers to pedestrians--anyone could hitch a ride in Palmer's electrical car.
When I heard about Palmer's next project, the "Switchbus" at a meeting in Lucerne, I made the connection to feature him in SwissNews. As many inventors with a great idea, Louis had another idea that developed into one of his latest projects. Since completing his SolarTaxi project, Louis has...