UK & World News
Wind-Powered Car 'Could Cut China's Smog'
A Chinese farmer has invented a wind-powered electric car that he says could save his country from the pollution caused by its rapidly growing car market.
An hour from Beijing, the dusty village of Banjiehe looks an unlikely place to produce scientific innovation.
Its rows of brick, utilitarian houses are surrounded by cornfields and fruit trees.
But in a small tractor workshop, 55-year-old farmer Tang Zhenping has invented the prototype of a car that he believes could revolutionise China's auto industry.
Mr Tang's model - built in just three months for around £1,000 - is electric.
Its engine uses scrap parts from a motorcycle and electric scooter, while its steering wheel, upholstery and headlights all come from a Chinese-made Xiali hatchback.
But what makes the one-seater special is the turbine on its nose.
When the car reaches 40mph, the blades spring into action and begin generating pollution-free power.
"It works just like a windmill," said Mr Tang, who claims the turbine gives his vehicle three times the battery life of other electric cars.
The model has a top speed of 70mph.
The farmer says he dreamed of building an electric car for three decades, but was unable to interest government officials or private investors.
He now hopes car manufacturers will take an interest in his prototype.
"I'm not doing this just for the money," he told Sky News. "I dream of seeing my car being driven on highways. I want to serve the people."
In 2009, China overtook the US as the world's biggest auto market.
An estimated 40,000 new cars take to the country's roads every day, and some predict China could have a billion passenger vehicles by the middle of this century.
The environmental results are horribly predictable.
A 2010 Chinese government report said an increase in acid rain, haze and photochemical smog was caused by growth in vehicle emissions.
The government has promised to put five million electric and hybrid cars on the road by 2020, and is heavily subsidising the development of cleaner vehicles.
But sales so far have been disappointing. According to The Economist, only 8,000 were sold last year.
Experts say that Chinese electric cars do not perform well and are expensive to run.
Mr Tang thinks his speedy, wind-powered model could be a solution to both problems.
"I started building it because I was worried about the price of petrol," he said. "But this car could also protect the environment. When I go to the city now I notice that the air really stinks."