The University of Massachusetts Amherst
Robert S. Cox Special Collections & University Archives Research Center
CredoResearch digital collections in Credo

American Tour de Sol

(Not fully processed)

American Tour de Sol Records

16 boxes 24 linear feet
Call no.: MS 872

The Tour de Sol was created in Switzerland in 1985 to build awareness and support for solar electricity aka photovoltaics (PV) by demonstrating that they work and can power cars! The American Tour de Sol, America’s Green Car Competition & Festival, began four years later and ran for 18 years under the aegis of the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA). In 1990, it evolved into an annual 8-day road rally in the Northeast that demonstrated that practical electric vehicles recharged by renewably-produced electricity were viable, and could cut urban air pollution and climate change emissions. In later years, at the insistence and with support from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the event expanded to demonstrate all alternative fuel vehicles. The winners were determined by roadworthiness, driving range, energy efficiency (miles per gallon equivalent-MPGe), and low climate change emissions (carbon dioxide equivalent-CO2e). Vehicle categories encouraged entries made by major auto companies; entrepreneurs such as Solectria, and Solar Car Corp; as well as college, university, and high school student teams. In its final years, a Monte Carlo-style rally was added for new hybrid vehicle owners to demonstrate high mileage, and an electric bicycle category was added as well as an ‘Electrathon’ event to demonstrate non-auto options.

The American Tour de Sol collection includes annual Rule Books, magazines with full list of participants, reports, copies of 200-300 news clippings per year, videos of TV news coverage, and extensive collection of photographs. After the Tour de Sol in Switzerland closed its doors, the American Tour de Sol changed its name simply to ‘Tour de Sol.’ For clarity, we have retained the word ‘American’ in the collection title.

SCUA also houses The Michael H. Bianchi collection, which consists of an extensive assortment of interviews, reports, photographs, and videotapes documenting the Tour and its participants throughout its 18 year history, all created, conducted, and assembled by Bianchi.

Gift of Nancy Hazard and Michael H. Bianchi, June 2015


Automobile racingElectric vehiclesSolar cars


Bianchi, Michael H.Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA)

Types of material

Audio tapesInterviewsNewspaper clippingsPhotographsReportsVideotapes