The Tokai Challenger is arguably the most successful solar car ever built. Not only has it won the South African Solar Challenge in 2008 and again in 2010, but also the 2009 Global Green Challenge Australian event, while an updated version was also victorious in the 2011 World Solar Challenge.
In 2010 the sleek and light car, powered by Panasonic HIT solar cells and high-capacity lithium-ion batteries, covered the 4061.8 km route of the South African Solar Challenge in 45 hours 5 minutes at an average speed of 90.1 km/h.
The Tokai team arrived in the country on 10 September and handed over five vehicles, a Prius, two Auris HSD’s, a Yaris HSD and a Fortuner, as support vehicles for the team during the challenging event.
The South African Solar Challenge is held every two years under the auspices of Motorsport SouthAfrica (MSA) and the FédérationInternationale de l’Automobile (FIA)with support from the Department of Science and Technology, the International Solarcar Federation and the National Energy Efficiency Agency.
Besides the Tokai University team entry 12other local and international teams will participate in this year’s event with the competing vehicles covering a distance of nearly 5 400 km over a period of 11 days.
“This is the longest race distance we will have ever done, and with elevation differences of 1 700 m the South African Solar Challenge can easily be described as the toughest solar race in the world,” says Professor Hideki Kimura, project leader and member of Tokai University’s School of Engineering.
“As this race is such a gruelling event, I believe it presents a fantastic opportunity for the students to learn about technology, engineering and the environment. I am sure that these students will introduce major new environmentally friendly technological innovations to the automotive industry in the near future,” says Kimura-san.
“While still unsophisticated the technology offers unquestionable environmental benefits and we believe that this grueling race will offer us an opportunity to further improve our vehicle and our research on solar technology.”
Kerry Roodt, General Manager: Marketing Communications at Toyota South Africa Motors, says: “Events such as the Solar Challenge excites everyone at Toyota. Not only does it celebrate engineering excellence, but it also shows the cutting edge future of clean automotive technology.
“This drive for excellence that has made the Tokai Challenger the vehicle to beat is also the drive that has led to the creation of the Prius and other hybrid vehicles such as the recently introduced Auris HSD and Yaris HSD models. It is a great honour for us to be part of a project like this.”
The route will take the competitors from Pretoria through Rustenburg, Lichtenburg, Vryburg, Upington, Springbok and onto CapeTown.
Then after a day’s rest, the teams leave Cape Town, passing through Worcester, Montagu, Barrydale, Calitzdorp, Oudtshoorn, Port Elizabeth,Alexandria, Port Alfred, East London, Stutterheim, Queenstown, Aliwal North, Bloemfontein, Winburg, Bethlehem, Harrismith, Pietermaritzburg,Greytown, Dundee, Ermelo, Bethal, Secunda, Middelburg, Witbank and finally ending on 28 September back in Gauteng.
Follow the 2012 Sasol Solar Challenge South Africa at http://www.solarchallenge.org.za and follow the Tokai Challenger team on twitter: @tokaichallenger