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UJ students’ eco-car shows its paces


The University of Johannesburg (UJ) Voltronics team with its prototype battery-electrical vehicle finished in 15th place in the Shell Eco-Marathon Europe, ahead of teams from France, the Netherlands, Ireland, Turkey and Spain.
The UJ team was the only African one to race officially. The race driver was a female engineering student, Shalaka Thomas.
The team consisted of eight engineering students from University of Johannesburg (UJ) , accompanied by a team mentor and mechanical engineer. The Eco-Marathon took place between 30 June and 3 July in London.
Fifty teams registered in the category Prototype, with the energy source an electrical battery. Of those, 45 teams passed technical inspection and 30 teams registered valid racing results in London.
Although teams from Tunisia, Morocca and Nigeria registered for the Eco-Marathon, they didn’t post valid racing results nor pass technical inspection by Shell.
The UJ vehicle, dubbed “Nightfury” achieved a best racing result of 309 km/kWh.
At the Shell Eco-Marathon Europe each team is allowed four attempts during the competition. Each attempt consists of eight laps of 2.215km which had to be completed in under 43 minutes with the best possible energy or fuel economy. The best attempt counted for the final result.
Team leader and project manager Pieter Erasmus comments:” The Shell Eco-Marathon Europe gave the team world-class experience. We plant to improve on better visibility for the driver and driver comfort for the African Shell Eco-Marathon later this year.”
Driver Thomas says: “The race was intimidating because the other teams have been racing for longer. It was a lot of fun too, driving a tiny car going quite fast. The car is so tiny and you’re strapped down. You’re almost in a sleeping position driving it. That’s not ideal for driving but it is the most energy-efficient.”