TEAM NAME | UniChamps Solar Car Team (University of South Africa)
CAR NAME | UniSolar
COUNTRY | South Africa
CLASS | Cruiser
After struggling to attend their practical classes due to unforeseen circumstances, UniChamps Solar Car Team decided to put their engineering skills and knowledge to the test and built a solar car, which they hope in the future will be the efficient and cost-effective solution to transportation challenges.
“We wanted to experiment with alternative energy concepts while applying our engineering knowledge and skills in putting together a fully functioning car which is powered by the sun,” said team leader Lebogang Lebea.
“We believe that solar-powered cars are one of many solutions to the climate change crisis and that solar energy can be used to aid the transportation sector. By participating in the Sasol Solar Challenge, we aim to contribute towards efficient and sustainable transportation.”
The team was formed in 2021 by a group of engineering staff members and students. After numerous attempts to complete their solar car, they decided to donate the half-built car to the new group, which will be competing in the Sasol Solar Challenge (SSC), their first-ever solar challenge.
“We believe that we have found the solution of the problems faced by our previous groups, from months of reverse engineering, new discoveries have been made to improve the solar car,” said Lebea. “The research and design phase are now complete. We are currently fabricating components and improving the chassis and aerodynamics of the car.”
UniSolar approximately weighs 400 kg, with estimated speed of 70 km per hour. The car design was inspired by both the Lamborghini Countach LP500 and DeLorean DMC because of their mid-engine, flat wide body to accommodate 5m square of solar cells and protruding air vents.
The 20-member team, aged 20 to 30, include eight drivers. They design and manufacture all parts of the car, including the chassis, which is made of round mild steel pipes.
They are coming to the 2022 Sasol Solar Challenge to learn about different components they have never used before and ways of connecting them in their solar-powered car, to make their car more efficient and increase speed for future solar challenges.