Built at a cost of INR 2 crores and backed by a number of leading corporate in the country, besides Chetan Mani, an electric car pioneer, Soleblaze was the sole entry from India at the prestigious World Solar Challenge.
The single seater solar powered car, Soleblaze was built by a total of 20 team members form RV College of Engineering (RVCE), who toiled day and night for 2 years. Apart from these students, major corporates such as Wipro, TCS and SunEdison also had a major role to play in the development of the vehicle. Narayana Murthy, the founder of Infosys, contributed INR 30 lakh for the car’s development.
World Solar Challenge is an annual race where university students from around the globe bring their solar powered vehicles to compete in a long distance race. India’s only entry to the competition, Soleblaze managed to reach Australia earlier this month, as the race was scheduled form 18-25 October.
But before participating in the race, Soleblaze was to undergo a dynamic scrutiny on 16th October. This will ensure that the car adheres to set guidelines for safety and regulation. If a team ails to pass these test, they will not be allowed to race.
Sadly for the RVCE team, their 5 kWh storage battery for Soleblaze arrived from India in a damaged condition on 14th October. With less than 48 hours to dynamic scrutiny, there was nothing the team could have done to get the car ready in time. They finally decided to opt out of the competition.
The shipping company in charge of transporting Soleblaze and battery pack to Australia promised delivery on 9th October but it was only on the 14th that Soleblaze reached its destination. It is yet not clear why there was a delay in the arrival of battery. If it had arrived on 9th, the team would have had more days to prepare / fix the damaged critical component.
The news about RVCE team’s bad luck quickly spread. University of Michigan even stepped in and offered their spare battery. Sadly, the same was not compatible with the system on board Soleblaze.