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Witsies will race a solar-powered car from Pretoria to Cape Town in an eight-day challenge starting later this week. The Wits solar car is hoping to go the distance in this year’s Sasol Solar Challenge, a race based on the distance covered and not speed.
Solar cars are raced all over the world, but the South African race is unique in that it is based on distance covered said team manager Kamil Midor. Midor is a visiting lecturer in the Wits School of Mechanical, Industrial and Aeronautical Engineering.
The cars will travel a distance of 2000km on the main route with campsites every 230km. Cars can expand the distance travelled up to 6000km by doing loops that vary between 58km and 132km. “The final winner is the car that travelled the longest distance during the period of eight days,” said Midor. Each day the cars must reach the designated finish line by 5.30pm.
Wits participated in the race for the first time in 2012 and came fourth. Learning from the previous race, they built the new car with improvements. “It’s much lighter, much more energy efficient than before,” said Midor.
This is one of the cheapest cars in the competition, and it cost R130 000 to make it, said Midor. The car can convert 22% of the sun’s energy into electricity. This is an improvement from the previous race where it could only convert about 16%.
The car uses less energy than a hairdryer and can reach a top speed of 120km/h. “It’s like a bicycle, just with more energy,” he said.
Besides other South African universities, Wits will also compete against international teams from India, Turkey, Iran and current world champions, Holland.
- Wits Vuvuzela. Wits Solar Car team gear up for take off. April 5, 2013.