Racing car of dreams

Ahmed Shatil Alam writes about the first hybrid racing car in Bangladesh

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In terms of expenditure, Formula One (F1)can be regarded very high on the list of most expensive sports of the world, if not the topmost. Each Formula One car is worth approximately $2.6 million in material costs, as reported by autoweek.com, a popular American fortnightly automotive enthusiast publication.

So, it’s natural that if it is said that only Taka Five lakhis needed to make a racing carthat can go up to a speed of 120 kilometres per hour, then many fans of F1 will not believe it. But recently a group of auto enthusiasts from Bangladesh made this a reality by engineering a Bangladeshi racing car. The group claims that this is the first ever hybrid racing car in Bangladesh with 208 CC.

While talking to New Age Xtra, KamrulHasan, a key member of the team that consists of 20 members, claimed that this car weighs around 270 kgsand is the first ever hybrid racing car in Bangladesh. ‘Before this, nobody had made a hybrid car in Bangladesh. Our car can run on fuel as well as on battery,’ he says.

Hasan, who is currently studying mechanical engineering at a private university in Dhaka, shares that the original plan behind making such a car hit his team mates, who also studies at the same university, when they were supposed to submit a project prior to completing their bachelor’s programme as part of their course syllabus. ‘As mechanical engineering students are car enthusiasts, we have always dreamt of making cars and participating on global platforms with our creation,’ he says.

The team has already taken part in the Student Formula Hybrid, which is also known as F1 for amateurs, organised by Imperial Society of Innovative Engineers of India. ISIE-Hybrid vehicle challenge is Asia’s largest vehicle challenge for the engineering or diploma students.

The programme, where the team of car enthusiasts who named themselves‘Swapnojan’, were awarded the ISIE Future Award. ‘At the programme, we were the only team from Bangladesh among the 78 teams and got the “go green award” as well,’ says MohaiminulMim of Swapnojan. The team also named their car after the team’s name. ‘We are very hopeful with our car and that is why we named it Swapnojan,’ he adds.

The team began working on Swapnojanfrom May 2016. The car is about 96 inches in length and has a wheelbase of 64 inches. It runs on octane and also on battery. ‘When the car runs on low speed that can range till 25 kilometres per hour that is when the battery is sufficient. A speed of over 25 kilometres requires fuel,’ explainsSaniatJahan of Swapnojan.

But if driver of the fiber glass car needs to increase the speed, he or she can use both fuel and battery together.

to replace

While talking about the challenges while building the car, Hasan shared that as the parts were not available they could not make the car lightweight. ‘The battery takes up 20 percent of total weight of the car at 53 kilogrammes…we tried to use lithium battery but it was so expensive and was not available in the country,’ he says.

They also could not find local sponsors for their team. So UPS, an international shipping brand, came forward to support them. ‘We went to many companies but were refused.Later we made the car with our own money and lastly UPS came forward to help us,’ says MashudRayhan.

The team used a Briggs and Stratton 950x engine to makeSwapnojan, which was bought by the group from the organisers. ‘Actually all the teams had to use the same engine as it was a competition,’ says NafizZaman.

While talking to New Age Xtra, team member Saied Ahmed, who also drove the car on the Buddha Circuit in Delhi, says that it was a very smooth experience. ‘The speed during turning and the suspension was quite good in the car,’claims Saied who is an avid car lover and regularly drives cars in Dhaka.

In the near future, the team is planning to attend the Formula One Germany, which is a large platform where they will compete with European and other car makers from around the world.