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Local News

September 24, 2013

Solar car makes it debut in Newburyport

(Continued)

That can be done by leaving it the sun for four to five hours, or by charging the battery by using an indoor electrical outlet.

To launch the year-old company, founders used a kickstarter.com campaign initially to raise more than a quarter million dollars.

In recent months, they have generated close to $1 million from investors. Managers reportedly are developing a second assembly plant in San Diego, and Elf appears to be emerging as the new thing among the alternative energy crowd.

At an organic festival called the Common Ground Fair in Maine over the weekend, an energy-conscious owner demonstrating an Elf there said, “I live in Bath and drive to work in Freeport. It’s a 19-mile commute, and the only problem I’ve had is people pulling up to me in their cars and wanting an explanation of what I am driving.”

The Elf travels about 20 miles per hour when being propelled by the battery, but those pedaling downhill can reach almost 40 miles per hour, drivers say.

One selling point appears to be that the driver can get a workout through pedaling or a pleasant ride while permitting the battery to provide the power.

It shields an operator from the rain (mostly), but it’s unclear how comfortable it will be in winter.

The manufacturer is reportedly developing “doors” for each side that might shield the operator from the elements. Numerous new features, including a kid’s seat, seem to be evolving each month.

“I’ve taken the Elf out on a flat landscape here, and it’s perfect for toodling around the town,” said Elizabeth Marcus, a green activist and partner of Willeman. “I have been pleased with my first rides.”

The can-do mentality of a long-distance bicycle rider appears to be part of the operating ethic.

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