Today, eight Pakistani engineering students will make history by being part of the only Asian team to qualify to compete at the prestigious Solar Car Challenge in Cyprus, Greece. The Challenge aims to promote the use of solar energy in the auto industry, and is hosted by the Cyprus Institute.

This year, seven cars assembled by university students from Belgium, Greece and Pakistan will participate at the event. The car that manages to complete the maximum number of laps in the prescribed time will emerge as the winner; the team that designed it will receive accolades and recognition for the car’s solar efficient design.

Pakistan is represented by Team Claptrix from Karachi’s NED University of Engineering and Technology. The Team’s car, appropriately called ‘Solar Car’ competed at the 2011 Shell Eco-Marathon Asia (SEM) in Malaysia. Unfortunately, Solar Car did not perform up to expectations at the SEM because its solar panels were damaged in transit.

This time the team has made provisions to avoid such a situation from arising again by making the Solar Car ‘ready to drive’ – which means that no assembly is required.
The Solar Car runs on energy derived from the sun via its overhead solar panels during the day; the panels can store enough energy to ensure that the car can be used for up to four hours after the sun sets. It does not require any gears or oil injecting mechanisms and has a lightweight, aluminium chassis and a carbon-fibre body to give it added strength; the tyres weigh a kilogram each. The car’s aerodynamic shape helps it reach a top speed of 55 km/h.

According to Team Claptrix, the car is the only urban concept solar car assembled in Asia to date. And while the competition promises to be stiff, the Team is confident that it can take Cyprus by storm.

– Haroon Rasheed

First published in the Adbuzzzz Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on July 8, 2012.

Update: While the Solar Car did not win the Challenge, Team Claptrix was awarded with the ‘Most Unique Design’ award for their vehicle.