Parked in the middle of a barren courtyard is a gleaming, tiny red car. Designed like a Volkswagen Foxy, its approach is minimalistic — one seat, a motor cycle engine, but no dashboard or a tape recorder. It runs on petrol, and its crowning glory, as its inventors claim, lies in its fuel consumption — 120 kilometres in one litre at a speed of 45 kilometres an hour.
Seeing the car and meeting its inventors reminded one of Schumacher, not of the Formula 1 fame, but that of the Small is Beautiful fame, who had advocated for smaller economies of scale and eco-friendliness all his life.
The project is the brainchild of Team NED Pakistan, a group of 10 students — Haris Rehman, Sahim Khan, Adil Tariq, Hisham Tariq, Taimoor Tiwana, M. Jawaad, Sayed M. Noor, Hussan Shaikh, Tayyab Rasool and Abdul Majeed Shaikh — who have spent five months and Rs500,000 on the project so far.
The dream is to create a 100kg-car and compete in the Shell Eco-marathon Asia to be held in Malaysia in July. The competition challenges students to design energy-efficient cars.The car will also be exhibited at the SAE Supermileage, the F1 Tech-challenge 2012 in USA.
The team, the students claim, is the only one representing Asia Pacific. “Not even India and China made it to the competition,” said Muhammad Taimur.Sahim Khan said that the car had to undergo several processes to become ready for the exhibition.
Pointing at the rim, he said, “These are wheels of a Honda 70cc motorcycle. The rims are aluminum, we want to use lighter Michelin tyres made for the Formula 1 track, which will cost about 50,000 rupees more.”
“The body,” he explains, “is made up of fiber glass, but we want to use a lighter substance called carbon fiber for the body and rim, which is costly. It will add 35 percent to the current cost, only if someone sponsors us.”
The idea behind reducing the weight of the car is to enhance efficiency. He opens the boot of the car which holds a motorcycle engine (yes, the car has its engine at the rear), “This is a second-hand engine. If we install a new engine I believe we can make the car run 200km in a litre.”
“NED, you see, is a public-sector university. They can only do so much. We have received technical help from them, but we are short on financial resources, and for that we need the corporate sector’s help. Do not give us cash, get us the materials,” said an optimistic Khan.
The team said that if all went well and if they got an investor they would go into mass production, offering the car to the local market at Rs100,000 and become a tough competitor to the market of motorbikes.
“And you see it is perfect for women, who do not ride motorcycles or scooters in the country,” he said smilingly, eyeing an untapped potential market segment.
originally published at: