The Shell Eco Marathon is a car building competition that charges students from higher institutions world wide to design, build and drive the most energy efficient cars. The objective of this competition is to push boundaries of power efficiency (be it gasoline, electricity, hydrogen, diesel, ethanol, solar etc) and also to give young engineering students in higher institutions the opportunity to showcase their talents in engineering. As with every competition, SEM organisers have imposed stringent rules and regulations that will guide the students during their car building adventure. These cars are categorised into two:
the prototype category; which basically refers to a futuristic car that has the most sophisticated energy conservation technologies and best weight shedding techniques. The inventions and innovations on this kind of car has broadly diffused into both the automotive and motor sport industries today.
the urban concept category: is a more realistic everyday car although with smaller dimensions as compared to a typical road car. One of the stringent rules in this category is that the car must weigh below 225kg. It is worthy to note that an average road car weighs about 1,100kg.
In the year 2013, Shell brought this golden opportunity to us, the Nigerian students in Universities. Only three(3) universities were selected to participate namely;
Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Kaduna State,
University of Benin, Edo State, and
University of Lagos, Lagos State.
We were challenged to build a very light car that would travel the farthest distance with the least amount of power (like I said, it could be electricity, petrol, diesel, ethanol, hydro, solar etc).
TeamABU’s SEM Track Record
In September 2014, a team of 22 students and 6 members of staff started building an urban concept car. Not majorly for the competition but for the sole aim of rallying us through the use of workshop tools and equipments and to also learn doctrine of complying with the SEM rules and regulations. Towards the end of December, the car, which we called “Gamji ABUFENG” was 90% complete.
Early January 2015, TeamABU commenced the design and construction of an egg shaped car called ABU CAR II, which was to be the grande car to compete in Shell Eco Marathon Europe(May, 2015). The car featured a host of technological innovations such as rain sensitive windshield wiper, electronic button gear selection, rear view camera and integrated windshield, roof and door in one to save weight.
Mid April, ABU CAR II was completed and was cleared to participate in SEM Europe, Netherlands after passing all the necessary technical inspection tests in Lagos. The test was carried out by certified SEM members of staff in Nigeria. Sadly, only ABU CAR II was shipped to Netherlands leaving the team members stranded in Lagos due to late application of Visa.
Late August 2015, a fresh team of twelve(12) students and four members of staff both academic and non academic was recruited and tasked to build a prototype car(ABU CAR III which was code named Zazzau”, after the Zazzau Emirate) to compete for the very first in SEM, Africa. The competition was to be held in October at Zwartkops Raceway, Johannesburg, South Africa. TeamABU barely had a month to achieve the feat of building the car and getting it fully ready for the competition. It was not until two weeks to the race that the car was near 80% completion. The rest of the work was completed few days to the D-day in South Africa by just a meagre number of the team members (three students and one supervisor out the 16 team members). Many challenges were faced especially due to the shortage of man power at the track which was evidently as a result of lack student sponsorship by the university administration. Although saddening, TeamABU still pushed for second place in the race losing to TeamFUPRE.
More recently, TeamABU kicked off building another prototype car to compete at SEM Europe which will take place in London, UK in June. As it stands, the team is financially stranded to continue the build even though the date of the event is fast approaching. We sincerely look up to our school’s administration to come to our aid.
To crown it all, TeamABU has only one goal and one goal alone, to raise the glory our highly prestigious institution in Africa once again. Sponsorship from individuals and industries will be warmly appreciated.