Record-breaking Japanese team takes second SA Solar Challenge crown

5th October 2010 By: Irma Venter - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

Ten new South African race records were set during the second South African Solar Challenge, race organisers announced at the finish-line in Pretoria on the weekend.

The world champion solar car, the Tokai Challenger, from the Tokai University in Japan, competing in the challenge class, travelled 4 061 km – the furthest distance on solar power in a single South African event.

The futuristic-looking Tokai Challenger, at some points reaching speeds of 120 km/h, also travelled the furthest distance on solar power in a single day, clocking up 565,3 km.

Also in the challenge class, the Pretoria Star Track entry covered the furthest distance for a South African entry using solar power in a single event (728,3 km), while also setting a new day record for distance covered on solar (125,5 km) by a South African vehicle.

The Johannesburg German School, in its Sonnenbrand solar-powered vehicle, travelled the furthest distance on solar power in a single event by a South African school, at 483,5 km. Sonnenbrand also travelled 94,5 km, the furthest distance by a South African school in one day.

In the technology class (petrol/hydrogen fuel cell hybrids), the University of Johannesburg’s (UJ’s) Bar-1 hybrid vehicle travelled the furthest distance in a single South African event, reaching 1 845,4 km, and the furthest distance in a day, at 472,3 km. 

The Bar-1 combines hydrogen fuel cells with an electric motor and a Yamaha R6 motorbike engine. The fuel cells and electric motor add enough power to keep the revolutions down on the motorbike engine, which reduces emissions significantly.

The Schluckspecht electric vehicle, entered by the Offenburg University of Applied Sciences from Germany, covered the furthest distance in a single day in the technology class (electric), at 1 173,6 km, and the furthest distance in a day, at 340,2 km.

Participants in the Solar Challenge took part in two classes.

The challenge/olympia category is the competitive category, where competitors build solar-powered cars that must adhere to strict design criteria. Cars are constrained to six square metres of solar panel. The cars must have full lighting, and a 60 degree upright seat. Olympia class vehicles must have four wheels.

The technology class is open to all road vehicles and technology demonstration vehicles. The competitive portion of this class revolves around fuel efficiency. All tanks are sealed and the petrol/diesel/bio diesel/electricity is measured, and calculations done to determine the average fuel efficiency. 

Organisers hailed the efforts by all competitors in the 2010 event.

“Every team has been superb,” says Solar Challenge director Winstone Jordaan, also chairperson of the Advanced Energy Foundation.

“Now we are issuing a challenge to universities, technology groups and research institutions from South Africa and across the world to build a car and compete in 2012.

“SA has incredible opportunities to become a leader in solar and other advanced energies, and the Solar Challenge is the perfect place to develop the skills, technologies and teamwork needed to realise our potential.”

The event was organized by the Advanced Energy Foundation and the Innovation Hub.

The South African Solar Challenge has international backing from the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), as well as the the Department of Science and Technology, International Solarcar Federation, Motorsport South Africa and the National Energy Efficiency Agency.