Introduced in 1985, the Shell Eco-Marathon Challenge brings student teams together from all over the world to compete, design, build and drive the most energy-efficient cars, with the hope that it may inspire future developments in the automotive industry.
This year, the Challenge attracted 17 universities and high schools across the African continent, and it was hosted by the University of Johannesburg.
The Namib Eco-Riders managed to end second in the Battery Category, and the team was also awarded a prize for Perseverance and Spirit.
After previous multiple struggles, such as car technical issues, the team was able to overcome every challenge to qualify for the race. Over several days, teams made many attempts to travel the furthest on the equivalent of one litre of fuel.
The competition required that cars be driven for a fixed number of laps around the circuit at a set speed. Organisers then calculated their energy efficiency and named a winner in each class and for each energy source. The race started last Saturday afternoon, and continued through Sunday. The Challenge was held at the classic Zwartkops Racetrack which is now among the busiest and most modern circuits in South Africa, with a wide range of activities taking place around the year. Today, as well as for domestic racing, the track boasts its own skidpan and driver training facilities and is the only internationally-licensed kart circuit in South Africa.
The vehicle that was used by the NUST team was donated by the University of Johannesburg through a partnership formulated by the NUST Vice-Chancellor, Dr Tjama Tjivikua, three years ago. Dr Tjivikua called for more investment in innovative initiatives.
“This is where we should be investing our resources in order to innovate and inspire the younger generations,” Tjivikua said. He expressed his gratitude to Pupkewitz BMW for supporting the students. He was however disappointed that no other Namibian company sponsored the team after a few calls to industry.