RAWALPINDI: They call themselves Pak- Wheelers, and their project, Prodigy. Their goal is simple — to hoist Pakistan’s flag in an “eco-marathon” in Malaysia.
A group of 11 students from National University of Science and Technology (NUST) are making Pakistan’s first-ever hybrid car. The group will participate in the Shell Eco-Marathon 2010 in July in Malaysia.
The event will feature around 100 teams from all over Asia competing for the top spot on the Sepang International Circuit, which is also used for Formula One racing.
The winning criteria — whichever team gets the best mileage out of a single litre of fuel. “Our design and simulations are complete, we are waiting for Prodigy’s body to be completed,” a very excited Hassaan Ali told The Express Tribune on Sunday. “We will begin live car-tests by the end of May,” he added.
“Our initial design was giving us a mileage of around 450 kilometres to a litre but we managed to improve that number to more than 700 km/litre after switching to a hybrid model,” said Faizan Zafar, another team member. “We have optimised the car according to the track,” Hassan Ali added. People intially laughed at the group’s ambition and project goals. But now, the proud and joyful faces of their friends and families tell a different story.
The group came up with the idea at a birthday party back in July 2009. They were inspired by another team from Pakistan Navy Engineering College who had participated in the Shell Eco-Marathon Europe 2009 in Germany.
They presented their idea to Ikhlaq Khatak, an associate professor at the College of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering (CEME) at NUST, who encouraged and mentored them to pursue it. Then onwards, Yahya Hassan Khan, Abrar Mehmood, Hafiz Awad Awan, Syed Hassaan Ali, Farrukh Ali, Raheel Ansar, Faizan Zafar, Zafarul Islam, Muneeb Shah, Muhammad Abdullah, Majid Ghafoor and Hassan Ali, started working on various aspects of the car’s design and its simulations.
Getting companies to sponsor the project was particularly hard. “Initially, we pitched our proposal to some 50 companies. Only BMW Pakistan responded to our pitch,” Hassaan said. Later, other companies started coming on board. “We are currently receiving funding from Higher Education Commission of Pakistan, NUST, Hypercomp and the Pakistan Army,” he added.
The group is still short of their projected expenses, managing to raise only Rs 1.4 million of the Rs 2.2 million costs they originally estimated. This sum includes the cost of transporting the car to and back from Malaysia. “The best thing that we did was to make this project our senior (year) project,” Hafiz Awad said.
A student is not allowed to graduate from CEME until they have completed their senior year project. All the promise and glory aside, the driving force behind the project remains simple. “We want to be able to hoist Pakistan’s flag in Malaysia,” Hassaan said.
“We want to be able to show a new face of Pakistan to the world, one that is considerably different than what the western media is showing,” he added, reciting the team mantra, “For some teams it’s a car, For some teams it’s a project For us, it’s an ideology An ideology to prove that Pakistan can be constructive.”
- A hybrid vehicle combining a combustion engine with an electric motor to increase its efficiency.
- It harvests energy lost during breaking and reuses it for running.
- It uses super capacitor banks to store energy.
- The petrol engine produces a constant energy of 3.5 British horsepower and the remaining power comes from the super capacitor banks.
- It uses a carbon-fibre body.
- More details about the car can be found on the team’s website, http://pakwheelers.webs.com