University of Free State Solar Team


TEAM | University of Free State Solar Team

CAR NAME | Lengau

COUNTRY | South Africa

CLASS | Challenger

A Solar-powered Cheetah has escaped its Free State habitat and has been spotted on the Sasol Solar Challenge (SSC) line-up.  Known as Lengua in Sesotho, the large cat is determined and hungry to take on the thousands of kilometres between Johannesburg and Cape Town.

Lengau has been introduced to the SSC by first time competitors, the University of the Free State.

Team leader Hendrik Van Heerden said he used to see the event on media reports and always dreamed of taking part in the challenge.

“I am excited that we finally get to participate in the event. We have all the skills and experience required to build a well-functioning solar car. Among other developments, the university’s recent research into photovoltaic technologies – solar cells – has opened the door for us to compete in the Sasol Solar Challenge.”

The name Lengau comes from the province’s coat of arms, which has a multi-coloured shield and base of green, browns and beiges portraying the earth of the Free State. It also has the indigenous Orange River Lily and both sides of the shield are supported by cheetahs.

The team chose the name to recognise its province and capital city, Bloemfontein.

The team currently consists of eight members, aiming to grow to 14 in total before the event kicks off, and includes lecturers and students with a combination of skills from physics, engineering, electronics, manufacturing, management, media marketing, and diplomacy.

Preparing for the event, the team has been actively designing and building their solar car since 2019. They are currently reassessing some of the car designs and upgrading components.

“Our main problem is time and funding. Most of our materials are outsourced. We do have various sponsors, but we’re hoping to stay within a limited budget,” said Van Heerden.

The team is building a 250 kg solar car (driver included) that can reach speeds of 60 kilometres per hour.