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The Cars

2014: Hulamin-iKlwa

Solar car iKlwa

In 2014, a team of eight students and two lecturers entered a new, more competitive car, named Hulamin-iKlwa, named after a short spear used by the Zulu warriors under the famed leader, Shaka Zulu and our industrial sponsor Hulamin. For the 2014 event, the team focussed on improvements to the aerodynamic design and weight reduction compared to the original Apalis design.

Hulamin-iKlwa has a true carbon fibre monocoque chassis, 6m2 of some of the most efficient silicon solar panels in the world, custom designed, CNC machined aluminium suspension and a state of the art 20kg lithium ion battery pack. The car boasts an incredibly low coefficient of drag due to extensive computational analysis and optimisation on the outer shell of the car, one of the main reasons the car can be driven by a single 2kW DC hub motor.

After starting the race 1 and a half days late due to a technical problem, there seemed to be little chance of a podium finish. However through determination and team-work we consistently closed the gap between us and other teams day by day. Our diligence eventually paid off when, on the last day of the race, we overtook the team in third place and finished first among the South African teams, having almost caught the team in second place too. We placed 3rd in the Olympia class (four wheels) of the 2014 Sasol Solar Challenge. Hulamin-iKlwa also won the award for furthest distance travelled by a South African team (2418.3 km) and the TomTom telemetry award.

Solar car awards

2014 Sasol Solar Challenge

  • Top South African Team
  • 3rd Place (Olympia Class)
  • TomTom Telemetry Award
  • Furthest distance travelled by a South African team, Olympia Class (2418.3 km)

2012: APALIS

Solar Car Apalis

The first car, Apalis, named after the genus of small passerine birds found in most parts of sub-Saharan Africa, came a very commendable third in the 2012 Sasol Solar Challenge. The car had a lightweight carbon fibre body and chassis supported by an aluminium and chromoly sub-chassis. It was powered by 6m² of state of the art silicon solar cells, charging a bank of 464 lithium-ion batteries driving a high efficiency 7kW electric motor.

UKZN’s Department of Mechanical Engineering applied for and was granted funding for their first solar car under the TIA call issued towards the beginning of 2012. We later managed to secure substantial funding over and above the TIA funding, with our largest sponsors remaining TIA and UKZN. A vehicle was designed and built from scratch in 6 months, with two staff supervisors, one postgraduate assistant and a team of eight undergraduate final-year mechanical engineering students, who were completing the project as part of their degree.

After a huge effort and some very tight budgeting, we entered our solar car, Apalis, into the 2012 Sasol Solar Challenge. The 2012 Sasol Solar Challenge saw 14 teams from all over the world drive over 5000 km around South Africa. This was the first time UKZN had ever entered a solar challenge. Apalis broke two standing records, by achieving the longest distance in one day (300 km), and the longest distance overall by a South African team (2094 km), almost doubling the second longest distance by a South Africa team. Apalis came third overall, defeated only by the two Japanese world champions.

Solar car awards

2012 Sasol Solar Challenge

  • 2nd Place (Challenge Class)
  • Best Rookie Award
  • Furthest distance travelled in one day by a South African team, Cruiser Class

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