Motorcycles

WAVE Trophy champions e-mobility across the heart of Europe

WAVE Trophy champions e-mobili...
The participating vehicles of the 2016 WAVE Trophy form the 1.5ºC hashtag at the Place Des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland
The participating vehicles of the 2016 WAVE Trophy form the 1.5ºC hashtag at the Place Des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland
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The participating vehicles of the 2016 WAVE Trophy form the 1.5ºC hashtag at the Place Des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland
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The participating vehicles of the 2016 WAVE Trophy form the 1.5ºC hashtag at the Place Des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland
David swaps his Kumpan Electric 1954L scooter's batteries for fresh ones during the 2016 WAVE Trophy
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David swaps his Kumpan Electric 1954L scooter's batteries for fresh ones during the 2016 WAVE Trophy
Bern, the capital of Switzerland welcomes the 2016 WAVE Trophy at the central square
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Bern, the capital of Switzerland welcomes the 2016 WAVE Trophy at the central square
Convenient power station right in the heart of Bern, Switzerland
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Convenient power station right in the heart of Bern, Switzerland
Beat (left) and Rolf (right) on their electric bicycles
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Beat (left) and Rolf (right) on their electric bicycles
Petra and Natalie Celine Kayser are the Women in Charge with their Tesla Roadster
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Petra and Natalie Celine Kayser are the Women in Charge with their Tesla Roadster
The electric 1953 Buick Roadmaster heads to the start line of the 2016 WAVE Trophy, right next to the impressive Klimahaus Bremerhaven
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The electric 1953 Buick Roadmaster heads to the start line of the 2016 WAVE Trophy, right next to the impressive Klimahaus Bremerhaven
Electric bus in Pratteln at the outskirts of Basel, Switzerland
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Electric bus in Pratteln at the outskirts of Basel, Switzerland
The Tesla Model S was by far the most popular vehicle of the 2016 WAVE Trophy
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The Tesla Model S was by far the most popular vehicle of the 2016 WAVE Trophy
This small electric car with Horlacher fiberglass bodywork paid us a visit while in Pratteln, Switzerland
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This small electric car with Horlacher fiberglass bodywork paid us a visit while in Pratteln, Switzerland
This converted Audi A8 was among the support vehicle fleet of the WAVE Trophy
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This converted Audi A8 was among the support vehicle fleet of the WAVE Trophy
Visiting schools with the Kumpan Electric 1954L e-scooter was one of the nicest experiences of the WAVE Trophy
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Visiting schools with the Kumpan Electric 1954L e-scooter was one of the nicest experiences of the WAVE Trophy
A prototype VR Bikes electric scooter with somewhat unique bodywork
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A prototype VR Bikes electric scooter with somewhat unique bodywork
The custom-made electric wagon of Team Framo during charging in Biel, Switzerland
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The custom-made electric wagon of Team Framo during charging in Biel, Switzerland
The VR3 electric three-wheeler joined the WAVE Trophy midway
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The VR3 electric three-wheeler joined the WAVE Trophy midway
The converted Citroen 2CV of Team Wangart from Freiburg, Germany regularly stole the show
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The converted Citroen 2CV of Team Wangart from Freiburg, Germany regularly stole the show
The small boxer engine of this Citroen 2CV has been replaced with something electrifying and a bit bulkier
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The small boxer engine of this Citroen 2CV has been replaced with something electrifying and a bit bulkier
The engine bay of Team Framo's Citroen 2CV electric
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The engine bay of Team Framo's Citroen 2CV electric
Appropriate selection of number for the Citroen 2CV of Team Framo
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Appropriate selection of number for the Citroen 2CV of Team Framo
This used to be a 1973 Karmann Ghia before getting a new lease of life with an electric powertrain from Team Dorstener Arbeit 2
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This used to be a 1973 Karmann Ghia before getting a new lease of life with an electric powertrain from Team Dorstener Arbeit 2
Several portable charging stations like these were deployed from the support vans every time there was a scheduled stop for the WAVE Trophy vehicles
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Several portable charging stations like these were deployed from the support vans every time there was a scheduled stop for the WAVE Trophy vehicles
Team Dorstener Arbeit 2 fielded this beautiful eKarmann
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Team Dorstener Arbeit 2 fielded this beautiful eKarmann
Under the hood of the electric Chevrolet truck
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Under the hood of the electric Chevrolet truck
This magnificent Chevrolet electric truck showed up at Geneva, Switzerland
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This magnificent Chevrolet electric truck showed up at Geneva, Switzerland
This Chevrolet is electric and unique
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This Chevrolet is electric and unique
The converted VW T2 bus is a regular participant of the WAVE Trophy
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The converted VW T2 bus is a regular participant of the WAVE Trophy
This VW T2 Bulli looks like a very nice way to take part in the WAVE Trophy
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This VW T2 Bulli looks like a very nice way to take part in the WAVE Trophy
In front of the UN building at the Place Des Nations, Geneva, Switzerland
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In front of the UN building at the Place Des Nations, Geneva, Switzerland
The WAVE vehicles assume formation lebeath the gigantic sculpture that dominates the Place Des Nations in Geneva
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The WAVE vehicles assume formation lebeath the gigantic sculpture that dominates the Place Des Nations in Geneva
Some of the cards that were sent to Geneva from schools all over the world
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Some of the cards that were sent to Geneva from schools all over the world
Explanation of the huge chair sculpture on the Place Des Nations in Geneva
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Explanation of the huge chair sculpture on the Place Des Nations in Geneva
The one and only Tesla Roadster of Team Woman in Charge
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The one and only Tesla Roadster of Team Woman in Charge
The BYD electric car with 200 miles range that was driven by Gordon Foat, main WAVE trophy rally driver, and Sebastian Barrett James co-pilot of Green MotorSport
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The BYD electric car with 200 miles range that was driven by Gordon Foat, main WAVE trophy rally driver, and Sebastian Barrett James co-pilot of Green MotorSport
Christian Jog and his Zero S won the motorcycle class of the 2016 WAVE Trophy, just like he did in 2015
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Christian Jog and his Zero S won the motorcycle class of the 2016 WAVE Trophy, just like he did in 2015
The e-Speedster of Team FH Dortmund is based on an old Porsche
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The e-Speedster of Team FH Dortmund is based on an old Porsche
Now that's a fine way to do it - electric Smart and a camper
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Now that's a fine way to do it - electric Smart and a camper
Team Australia came all the way from Byron Bay, but their BMW i3 was commission from Europe
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Team Australia came all the way from Byron Bay, but their BMW i3 was commission from Europe
The Team Framo electric camper truck
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The Team Framo electric camper truck
Team Wangart's electric 2CV in Geneva
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Team Wangart's electric 2CV in Geneva
A VW e-UP by Team Phoenix Contact e-Youngsters
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A VW e-UP by Team Phoenix Contact e-Youngsters
One of several Nissan Leafs, representing Team eWheels from Munich, Germany
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One of several Nissan Leafs, representing Team eWheels from Munich, Germany
The Fiat 126e minivan of Team Solon from Koln, Germany
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The Fiat 126e minivan of Team Solon from Koln, Germany
This electric van is part of a whole fleet of similar vans that handle the daily deliveries of Team Backer Schuren - which is actually a bakery in Hilden, Germany
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This electric van is part of a whole fleet of similar vans that handle the daily deliveries of Team Backer Schuren - which is actually a bakery in Hilden, Germany
School kids' cards on display at the Place Des Nations in Geneva
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School kids' cards on display at the Place Des Nations in Geneva
School kids' cards on display at the Place Des Nations in Geneva
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School kids' cards on display at the Place Des Nations in Geneva
The converted Saab 900 of German Team TWG
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The converted Saab 900 of German Team TWG
The Team Kyburz eRoad 
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The Team Kyburz eRoad 
The driver's seat of the Kyburz eRoad
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The driver's seat of the Kyburz eRoad
A participant from last year's WAVE Trophy dropped by at the Place Des Nations in Geneva for a visit
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A participant from last year's WAVE Trophy dropped by at the Place Des Nations in Geneva for a visit
The Renault Twizy is an apparently very popular electric city car in Switzerland as we kept seeing it in the streets around Lausanne and Geneva
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The Renault Twizy is an apparently very popular electric city car in Switzerland as we kept seeing it in the streets around Lausanne and Geneva
Moving at slow speeds at least allows to enjoy the awesome scenery of Switzerland
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Moving at slow speeds at least allows to enjoy the awesome scenery of Switzerland
Photo opportunity for Gizmag's Kumpan Electric 1954L e-scooter on a rare sunny day
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Photo opportunity for Gizmag's Kumpan Electric 1954L e-scooter on a rare sunny day
The rear box on the Kumpan Electric 1954L scooter was specifically designed for the WAVE Trophy to carry a spare set of batteries
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The rear box on the Kumpan Electric 1954L scooter was specifically designed for the WAVE Trophy to carry a spare set of batteries
Daniel Wenger of Team Kyburz enjoying our day in the sun in Geneva
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Daniel Wenger of Team Kyburz enjoying our day in the sun in Geneva
View of the Place Des Nations from the nearby rooftop that was used by Reuters' photographers
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View of the Place Des Nations from the nearby rooftop that was used by Reuters' photographers
School kids' cards on display at the Place Des Nations in Geneva
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School kids' cards on display at the Place Des Nations in Geneva
Gizmag's Kumpan Electric 1954L scooter charges overnight in Lausanne, Switzerland
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Gizmag's Kumpan Electric 1954L scooter charges overnight in Lausanne, Switzerland
Team Kyburz probably enjoyed the continuous rain as much as we did on our scooters
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Team Kyburz probably enjoyed the continuous rain as much as we did on our scooters
A surprise visitor in full style in Bremerhaven, right before the WAVE Trophy start
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A surprise visitor in full style in Bremerhaven, right before the WAVE Trophy start
Team ITK Engineering with their BMW i3 were the overall winners of the 2016 WAVE Trophy. In the middle is Louis Palmer
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Team ITK Engineering with their BMW i3 were the overall winners of the 2016 WAVE Trophy. In the middle is Louis Palmer
The support crew of the WAVE Trophy are the ones that helped make it all happen
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The support crew of the WAVE Trophy are the ones that helped make it all happen
The route of the 2016 WAVE Trophy
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The route of the 2016 WAVE Trophy
The custom converted-to-electric 1953 Buick Roadmaster is ready to set off to the 2016 WAVE Trophy
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The custom converted-to-electric 1953 Buick Roadmaster is ready to set off to the 2016 WAVE Trophy

The sixth edition of the World Advanced Vehicle Expedition (WAVE) recently promoted electric mobility across three European countries, leading up to a symbolic demonstration at the UN headquarters. Gizmag took part aboard an e-scooter, among a strictly electric fleet of trucks, vans, cars and bikes.

The WAVE Trophy owes its roots to Solartaxi, the experimental vehicle that Louis Palmer took around the world relying solely on solar power, and earned him the United Nations (UN) Champion of the Earth Award. After becoming the first to go round the globe with a solar vehicle, Palmer repeated the trip as part of a three-vehicle expedition and on 2011 the Zero Race completed the Earth's circumnavigation after 80 days.

Once the breakthrough had been achieved, the WAVE Trophy materialized as a more realistically feasible rally that would attract more enthusiasts. The event is always organized and directed by Louis Palmer, himself often traveling with the converted Iveco Daily Switchbus that is part of the electric-only support fleet.

In its current format the WAVE Trophy has carved through the heart of Europe every year since 2011. Either connecting the Mediterranean with the North Sea (2012), or spreading horizontally from France to the Czech Republic (2011), the message has always centered on the fact that numerous vehicles can cover long distances without burning a drop of fossil fuel. Three consecutive Guinness World records for the biggest electric vehicle parade (2013 to 2015) add credit to the event.

The route of the 2016 WAVE Trophy
The route of the 2016 WAVE Trophy

The 2016 rally was initially supposed to go after another world record parade, before an approval by the UN for access to the Place Des Nations changed everything. Palmer's persistence paid off with permission to park vehicles on the square right across from the UN's central building in Geneva, Switzerland. There was a new plan in place; use the participating vehicles to spell out the hashtag 1.5ºC, which calls attention to the world temperature rise over pre-industrial levels.

In order to deliver this message in Geneva though, the WAVE participants had to cover a distance up to 1,800 km (1,118 miles) from Bremerhaven, the rally's start point in northwestern Germany. For vehicles with smaller range and speed, the alternate routes avoided highways and lowered the total count to 1,600 km (1,000 miles); still a pretty tall order for small city vehicles like the Kumpan Electric 1954L scooter that powered Gizmag.

The rear box on the Kumpan Electric 1954L scooter was specifically designed for the WAVE Trophy to carry a spare set of batteries
The rear box on the Kumpan Electric 1954L scooter was specifically designed for the WAVE Trophy to carry a spare set of batteries

The route took us southward across Germany's western plains, over to the French Alsace region around Strasbourg, and then to Basel in Switzerland. From there the electric rally crossed over the Jura mountain range of the Western Alps towards the vast Lake Léman and the beautiful coastal cities of Lausanne and Geneva, before turning back to finish at Liestal, a few miles down the road from Basel.

Divided into daily stretches of 200 km (124 mi) on average, the scheduled route took eight full days to complete. Although it was more or less a stroll in the park for the Teslas taking part, it offered several challenges to the smaller members of the WAVE. Our 45 km/h (28 mph) scooter with the 100-km (62-mi) range was equipped with a spare set of batteries and still required careful planning of each day's charging stops – thoughtfully pre-planned by the event's organizers.

The rally included participants coming from as far as Australia and Canada, riding/driving more than 75 vehicles in total. The several Teslas were complemented by a variety of electric cars like the Nissan Leaf, Renault Zoe, BMW i3 and Mercedes-Benz B-Class. There were of course some special custom-made electric cars that regularly stole the show, such as a VW T2 Bulli, a Citroen 2CV, an astonishing '53 Buick Roadmaster (that unfortunately succumbed to a failed converter) and a Saab 900.

The custom converted-to-electric 1953 Buick Roadmaster is ready to set off to the 2016 WAVE Trophy
The custom converted-to-electric 1953 Buick Roadmaster is ready to set off to the 2016 WAVE Trophy

In the bike class only one Zero S motorcycle made it this year, plus two scooters that represented the Team Kumpan Electric – one for David Hoole of Eco Vehicle Exchange and another for yours truly. A VR3 three-wheeler also joined in after the group made a charging and lunch stop at the VR Bikes factory, and followed until the finish line.

Finally, the lightweight class included my WAVE heroes. Whenever we felt that the route was a bit too much for our scooters, all we had to do was think of the two pedelecs. Rolf and Beat from Switzerland pedaled the whole distance – and this was not their first WAVE.

Beat (left) and Rolf (right) on their electric bicycles
Beat (left) and Rolf (right) on their electric bicycles

The most challenging parts were those that included climbing slopes, straining our range to below 80 km (50 miles) and a couple of days that required distances of over 300 km (186 miles). Yet we always managed to reach each day's target, even if at times we had to ride for 8 to 10 hours to make the distance. This calculates to an average speed around the 30 km/h (19 mph) mark. Normally this wouldn't be a problem if it weren't raining.

Starting under a glorious sunshine in Bremerhaven, the second day brought on the first raindrops; they wouldn't stop until the penultimate day in Lausanne. Doing the majority of the distance under constant, and occasionally heavy, rain was definitely not pleasant for the riders – the same probably also goes for Team Kyburz with the eRoad open roadster.

The highlight of the event was without a doubt the Geneva demonstration. Finally graced with soothing sunshine, the WAVE vehicles formed their message on the Place Des Nations and took advantage of extensive media coverage. Apparently the UN opted to honor us with invitations to several major news networks that were there to document the event – including Reuters.

The WAVE vehicles assume formation lebeath the gigantic sculpture that dominates the Place Des Nations in Geneva
The WAVE vehicles assume formation lebeath the gigantic sculpture that dominates the Place Des Nations in Geneva

There Louis Palmer revealed another action that had quietly unfolded throughout the previous months. Several of his peers around the world, as well as WAVE competitors, visited schools and commissioned hand-drawn cards with messages from the children. Thousands of cards formed a mosaic among the electric cars and bikes on the Place Des Nations.

In similar fashion, an important action of the WAVE Trophy involved two days dedicated to visiting schools along our route in Switzerland, where we had the opportunity to speak about our vehicles to the children. Judging by their reactions, the idea proves highly effective in constructing a cool image for electric vehicles in the eyes of tomorrow's commuters.

Some of the cards that were sent to Geneva from schools all over the world
Some of the cards that were sent to Geneva from schools all over the world

Taking part for the first time at the WAVE Trophy was a very special experience on many different levels. For the typical motorcyclist like myself, such a long journey on a small electric commuter proved to be easier than I initially expected. Having never ventured into such an odyssey in the past, I think that given the chance I'd do it again.

After spending eight full days at speeds that allowed me to savor the beautiful scenery of 1,600 km (994 mi) of B-roads – or occasionally count the floors of high buildings as I was slowly passing them by – I wouldn't mind a two-wheeler with a little more top speed for a change, as I certainly would appreciate some better weather. Regardless though, participating in something this unique leaves me with nothing less than a sense of fulfillment.

Electric cars and motorcycles probably cannot save the climate on their own. They must play a pivotal role in reducing pollution in big cities, although on a global scale their impact would be tempered by heavy industry and mass transport of all sorts (land, sea, air) that gorge on fossil or nuclear food. Nonetheless, change has to start somewhere and this is where the WAVE excels. Executing its ambassadorial duties even louder every year, the WAVE Trophy is on its way to deservedly becoming an institution.

Visit Louis Palmer's YouTube channel for videos from every day of the 2016 WAVE Trophy –including one from day six with a happy Team Kumpan rider enjoying his first dry miles after five days of unrelenting rain.

Project website: WAVE

WAVE TROPHY 2016, day 6

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