Indian vehicle to compete in World Solar Challenge 2015

A solar powered car designed by city-based engineering students. A team of 20 students from RV College of Engineering is providing finishing touches to Soleblaze, a single-seater car that will cruise from Darwin to Adelaide – a distance of 3,012 kms – entirely on solar power from October 18-25 in the World Solar Challenge 2015.

Backed by a host of corporates and experts including electric car pioneer Chetan Maini, who cofounded the Reva electric car, the Rs 2-crore Soleblaze will compete among 45 Challenger class solar cars, including those designed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford and Cambridge universities.

(Incidentally Chetan Maini the great pioneer of EV in India was Part of the core solar car team that stood first in the US and third in the World Solar Challenge in Australia in 1990. After Chetan left Mahindra he has kind of gone under the radar…something tells me that he is on to something BIG in EV Industry… he is being tracked by PlugInCaroo Radar but has been successful in evading it so far… ;-)… I guess unlike cars he might be developing something that empowers the society as a whole. We at PlugInCaroo will wait and watch. Personally I hope he gets into developing electric motorcycles as the market is huge in India (10 to 50 times the size of Cars) and Asia where market penetration will be relatively easy as compared to Europe & US).

Coming back to the topic….the Students report that “At the moment, India does not produce a single vehicle that is solar-powered We only have battery operated vehicles. There’s no vehicle that has solar panels on its hood like this one. This is a gamechanger,”said Vikas Mathur, managing director at Ikaros Kinetic Solar, who is on the advisory board besides Maini. (actually unaware to them there are people like  – “Solar Ahmed” in Hyderabad who regularly drives on the Roads [sometimes even intercity] on his 2 battery-Lead-Acid solar car).

The Soleblaze car has a good speed of 95Km/Hr. If they can get another 10kms speed probably then they could surely claim the top prize.

Soleblaze does not have an engine, explained Vikram R Nath, (dont we all know that…not an engine but an electric motor…the students always excited) a final year mechanical engineering student, who is leading the team. “We have a solar array on which sunlight falls. It is connected to a maximum power point tracker to ensure that the amount of voltage is optimum. From this, it goes to a 5 kWh battery where it is stored. The power is drawn by a motor that is controlled electronically to run the vehicle,” Nath said. “Tho pahle kyon nahi bola Engine nahi but Motor hai?

Work on this project started in September 2013, but it has not been an easy journey , the students said.”We started by telling ourselves, “you don’t have to be great to start, you need to start to be great”, and not all components are available in India,” Nath said. Wah kya din hai…Students bhi aaj kal bahut filmy ho gaya hai 😉

The team has collaborated with 30 companies on this project for various aspects. The integration will be carried out under the guidance of experts at Mahindra Reva.Many US-based technology firms have also pitched in for various aspects of the car’s development.”We are happy not a single company rejected when we approached them,” Nath said.

Thanks to the team’s ingenuity, Soleblaze will weigh about 275 kgs, well within the stipulated 350 kg limit. “We are using aluminium tubes for the chassis that will be covered with a carbon fibre body. This has undergone 8-10 iterations,” Nath said.

Running in the solar challenge is not the only laurel the team will win. RVCE principal BS Satyanarayana said: “The offshoot of this can contribute to smart cities, smart power grids, integrated transport and even health monitoring.”

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