The first model of Vision 200, a four-passenger vehicle, which has partly been designed by a team of 11 Makerere University engineering students, is set for public viewing in Europe. The model of the hybrid power vehicle, which is expected to be ready for commercial production in 2010, will be showcased in the World Design Capital, Torino in Italy, according Mr Steven Jeremy Ntambi, the Makerere team leader.
Mr Ntambi told Daily Monitor last week that the prototype of the car, which has been in production since October 2007, will be moved from its workshop in the same location, to the Torino Museum on September 5, as part of this year’s Dream Exposition designs.
“The Vehicle Design Summit’s Vision 200 concept car will be showcased alongside vehicles like Ferrari, Fiat and other big global names,” said Mr Ntambi, a final year Bachelor of Science Electrical Engineering student at Makerere University. The car will be the only student-designed product at the show. Vision 200 final version, is aimed at creating a global solution to the energy and pollution challenges as well as lowering the cost of eco-friendly cars.
It is being designed by a consortium composed of students from at least 27 leading technology research universities and colleges including Harvard, Princeton, Germany’s FH Bochum University of Applied Sciences, Imperial College of London in the UK and Dehli College in India, with support from several private companies and institutions. Once completed, the car is expected to reduce gas emissions and increase the efficiency of fuel consumption.
Mr Ntambi said the student’s research observed that a normal car uses about 5-10 per cent of the fuel put in for movement but Vision 200 is expected to reverse this, and make use of about 95 per cent of the fuel used and yet offer extra power options, from its three sources.
The car is expected to achieve up to 50 kilometres per litre of fuel, compared to the 10 kilometres most saloon cars achieve on average.
The Makerere University team, which has been tasked with building the main system of the car, was charged with the duty of developing the low power electronics and the data networking system for the vehicle.
The project is part of the students’ requirements to complete their studies in Electrical Engineering, Civil Engineering and Information technology degrees.
“The general point of the research is what we are doing- the Power Train, which is the heart of the car. We are in charge of the battery, the motor and power train which move the car,” he said. A video of the making of the car also shows that Makerere students emerged as the best hands on team, providing the best welder (Douglas Bibita) who saved the team $800 per day and the best micro-programmer (Emmanuel Ssebaggala).
Because of his outstanding welding skills, Mr Bibita was asked to remain with the team that will finalise the first prototype, as his friends returned home last week. Prof. Tickodri Togboa, the associate professor, Department of Engineering, at the Faculty of Technology at Makerere said the participation of Makerere students on the project,means that Uganda is building the necessary human capacity to provide local solutions to our problems.
He said given resources, Uganda can borrow a leaf form China to become a global power in production of technologies because the human resource is under training.
“Some decades ago, you couldn’t hear about China, today, every product you buy the label is ‘Made in China’ no matter which market you go to. We would like the same thing to happen here,” Prof. Togboa who is one of the mentors of the Vehicle Design Summit’s Vision 200 (VDS) students said, in an interview at the university, on Thursday. VDS is the research on which the car is based.
In Torino, the car will be showcased to the public and the world’s leading car firm’s which could show interest in the model for a future partnership of a deal.
Mr Ntambi said, although the team may not surpass vehicles’ from Italy’s Ferrari or Bughatti, who have been around for several decades, exhibiting at the expo is a major achievement itself. “Being part of the exposition shows that we are part of the solution to make more environmental friendly cars,” he said.