TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES, N.M. (KRQE) – A New Mexico woman has found a way to take advantage of the state’s sunshine by creating a solar-powered bus company.
Kim Audette is behind the unique invention called the Solar Buzz.
The fifth generation New Mexican spent some of her childhood in Alaska before moving to Truth or Consequences.
“That’s where I really learned the value of electricity,” said Kim Audette.
So when Audette saw an electric bus for sale on eBay in 2011, she put in a bid.
“Eighteen dollars, they didn’t think it worked,” Audette said.
The bus did work. Audette spent the next few years fixing it up. She turned it into the state’s first solar-powered bus.
“No gasoline, no tail pipes, I have no generators. The solar panels are the generators,” she said.
She researched how to make solar panels on the internet. After several failed attempts, Audette eventually figured out how to create homemade solar panels. She then rigged them onto her bus.
The bus, fueled only by the sun, is now a state-licensed shuttle.
Audette follows a route taking people in Truth or Consequences where they want and need to go.
“It’s just kind of a happy vehicle. Everything about this thing is positive and cool,” said rider Rick O’Neill.
“It’s a wonderful thing scooting around town,” said rider Sophia Peron. “It’s fun to just ride it.”
“Now it’s just a job, but the first customer I was just busting my buttons proud,” said Audette.
Audette charges $3 per ride or $5 for a daily pass.
Eventually, she’d like to fix up old cars and turn them into solar vehicles too.