North West University Solar Team

TEAM | North West University Solar Team

CAR NAME | Phoenix

COUNTRY | South Africa

CLASS | Challenger

South Africa’s best team in 2016, the North West University solar car team were back with the goal to improve on the 3 524km they clocked in the previous Sasol Solar Challenge.

Placing fourth to international teams in 2016, they aimed to keep holding their own against the best solar car teams in the world.  To do this they rebuilt Naledi, which competed in the 2017 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge. Naledi, which was named after a star, had a Formula One body shape and first-of-its-kind rotating solar panels.

These solar panels are able to follow the sun – eliminating the common problem caused by shade from the car’s own cockpit. The 15-strong team believes that this unusual design may become a feature on solar cars in the future.

While the university is an experienced solar challenge competitor, the 2018 team – a third of which were women which was a completely new team dynamic for their technical manager.

Historically a project for electrical engineering students, the 2018 build team mostly included mechanical and chemical engineering students.

The 2018 car was lighter and its centre of gravity closer to the front of the car. An entirely new suspension and steering unit was designed to reduce vibrations.  Team NWU believed that their unique software – designed by masters students to measure telemetry - would improve their strategy and give them a competitive edge.  NWU’s other accolades – which they aimed for in 2018 - included the longest daily distance by a South African team in their 2016 car and awards for professionalism, safety and spirit.

In the local battle, North West University’s car, Phoenix finished fourth with an impressive 2517.7 kilometers.