Running on fumes : 2,500 kilometres in one litre of fuel..! mind boggling!

  • Running on fumes

    By Ameer Hamza Ahmad

    Published: April 22, 2012

    The 2011 version of the Bolt alongside the old chassis.

    Team PNEC: Abdullah Naeem, Umar Qayyum, Saad Ahmed, GP Capt (R) Shoib, Mukarram Raza, Haseeb Haider and Raffay (first row) Kanza Baist, Rumsha Baig and Aqsa Sikandar (second row) Bolt 2.0, the new and improved Bolt for 2012. The 2011 version of the Bolt alongside the old chassis. The remote controlled prototype from 2010, the Burraq-II. The Urban car at the Eco-Marathon 2010. Team PNEC’s first Prototype and Urban cars in 2009. At the starting line at Eco-Marathon Germany 2009.

    Efficiency takes the front seat in this race as students compete to match their futuristic car designs with fuel efficient technology.

    Every year, students from across Asia gather at the Sepang International Circuit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for the Shell Eco-Marathon (SEM).

    Their mission: to travel the greatest distance on a litre of fuel. Make no mistake: there’s serious competition and cutting-edge engineering on view at the SEM, and with this kind of fuel efficiency, it is no surprise that big car companies are taking a close interest in these budding young engineers.


    Last year a team from Thailand broke the Asian Eco-marathon record by driving the equivalent of over 2,500 kilometres on a litre of fuel — the equivalent of driving from Karachi to Kolkata.


    Competing on a shoestring budget, the team from the Pakistan Navy Engineering College (PNEC) at the National University of Sciences & Technology, Karachi (NUST) is quite hopeful about their chances at this year’s Eco-marathon. In 2009, they were the first university from Pakistan to take part in the Eco-Marathon held in Germany.

    While their cars didn’t have significant success at the competition, they returned to the Asian edition of the competition in 2010 with better and more efficient vehicles.

    Two categories of vehicles are tested on the tracks at SEM: the prototype category which is a futuristic design of what is yet to come in the field of automobile engineering, and the urban category which is open for mass production and more road-legal. Team PNEC’s current urban concept vehicle, the ‘Bolt’ is a conventional four-wheeler gasoline vehicle which, due to its unique fibreglass body and honeycomb chassis structure, was recognised by officials at SEM to be the lightest car in the 2011 competition.

    Despite their tiny budget, a close look at Team PNEC’s Urban car reveals great attention to details. The whole car weighs just over 100kg, while the heavily modified engine is a model of precision engineering. However, exactly what’s under the hood is something the team prefers to keep under wraps until they get to Malaysia. While the competition will be fierce on the track, it’s even tougher in Pakistan where every major engineering university is already preparing its own cars for the competition.

    Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia and Thailand are considered the top contenders this year, and the team from Thailand in particular has been surprising everyone with its record-breaking performance for the last two years. “The competition is quite tough; the others have access to cheaper and much better technology than us,” says Urban team leader Kanza Basit. “And this year we are expecting some tough competition from the Air University in Islamabad.”

    It’s not just the cars that have to be efficient, the drivers have to be efficient as well. “Some 40% of fuel can be saved by driving efficiently,” says Junaid Alauddin, the main driver for the Bolt. “Driving the Bolt is quite different from driving a normal car: the brakes are hardly used and we have to use a variety of driving techniques to maximise fuel efficiency.”

    Pakistan has almost always been the largest contingent at the competition, with 20 cars in 2010. “I pushed for a local competition to select the best team in the country, so that the winner could best represent the country but the other universities did not agree,” says team mentor, Captain (r) Shoib. “With so many teams competing from across the country, the chances of finding sponsors for each team have become really difficult.”

    Team PNEC’s 2010 entry in the prototype category, the BURRAQ-II, was quite a hit at the competition that year, attracting a lot of attention and press in Malaysia. The vehicle was remote-controlled, utilising wi-fi technology to allow the driver to steer it with joysticks instead of a steering wheel, and stop it with the flick of a switch. This removed the need for traditional transmission systems in conventional cars that potentially add weight, thus enabling the vehicle to travel further and be more fuel efficient. Sadly, the car was not allowed to race until some amendments were made to it. “The officials at SEM were concerned that interference with the car’s radio signals may lead to an accident on the track,” says Shoib. “We had to reroute the braking mechanism to make it manual but we couldn’t recover after that.”

    This year’s iteration, the Ballista, is a three-wheeled concept vehicle that was designed with fuel efficiency in mind. “It will be equipped with a conventional steering system along with an electronic fuel injection (EFI) system,” says Prototype team leader Rafay Bin Hussnain. “The car has a fibreglass body and its highly aerodynamic design will provide great weight reduction and drag minimisation, which will prove helpful in enhancing its fuel efficiency.” While the design and manufacturing of a prototype vehicle does not have strict dimensional criteria like the urban cars, there are certain requirements that have to be kept in mind. Seat belts, ventilation ducts and safety features are mandatory in all cars.

    This year, one of the team’s sponsors will be DHL Global Forwarding Pakistan. “In 2010, almost all the Pakistani contingent’s cars were damaged in some way or other during transportation. We didn’t want a repeat of 2010 so we contacted DHL who agreed to sponsor us under their Go Green initiative,” says Kanza. “They will ship both our cars to Malaysia and back.” The total cost of building, transportation and racing the cars in Malaysia costs about Rs2.3 million but while the team also has the support of Djuice, Telenor and HEC Stem Careers, they are still short of funds. “We asked NUST HQ for help, but they refused saying they did not have the funds this year,” says Shoib. “But we have a feeling they might just come through for us in the end.”

  • This post is deleted!

  • Yaar Docotr maan gaye,yeh forrum tumhara hey, hum hein khamkha ismein.

    To clarify the matter to others, I posted comments on this thread highlighting usual venoumous attitude of "Doctor" towards MQM, expressed my surpise on the thread without MQM bashing, those comments disappeared within few hours.

  • nothing against mqm