The proud PNEC-NUST team with their Formula Electric car.—Fahim Siddiqi/White Star
The proud PNEC-NUST team with their Formula Electric car.—Fahim Siddiqi/White Star

KARACHI: Pakistan’s first Formula Electric car selected for participation in the Formula SAE Lincoln-2016, and developed by a team of PNEC-NUST students, was unveiled at a hotel here on Thursday.

“Being the first in a country with virtually no Formula Racing infrastructure, especially for electric vehicles, facilities or experience, the journey of making Pakistan’s first Formula electric racing vehicle was far from easy. Even with the team’s relentless courage and acumen this idea would not have materialised without the support of our sponsors,” said the director of innovation and commercialisation at NUST, Salman Absar, while thanking Bank Alfalah’s ‘Rising Talent Programme’ that helped fund their project.

“Our team comprises 19 members and we came up with this car in 16 months during which we spent the first five months doing our research and the rest of the 11 months were consumed for manufacturing,” said Abdul Aleem, the team captain of Formula Electric Racing NUST (FERN).

“Making the car brought up several challenges but we were determined. And today we stand proud before you with our creation,” he said.

The car’s primary driver and mechanical director of one of their sub-teams, Ahsan Lakhani, a final-year student of mechanical engineering, told Dawn that he was a bit nervous test driving the first time even though he did that after a series of tests in their lab. “The motor was tested separately and everything seemed to be in order before I took the wheel. Still it was a big moment for me,” he said, explaining that the car was Formula Student car.

“You must have seen Formula 1 cars and Formula 3, 4 and 5 as well. But there is also a race for students, which is known as Formula Student. This car has been specially designed and built for that event, which is organised for students to be able to gain insight into this industry of Formula race cars,” he said.

Sana Fatima and Ayesha Naseer, two third-year year students of electrical engineering, said that they were part of the sub-team looking after the vehicles electronics. “We worked on the car’s wiring and circuit designing while also documenting our progress,” said Sana.

“It was a time-consuming job for which we stayed back after classes. But it was all worth the effort,” said Ayesha.

Running on lithium ion polymer batteries, the car weighs 275kg and is capable of achieving the top speed of 110km/h with an acceleration of 0-75km in 4.8 seconds. Some of its salient features include a rack and pinion type steering system, single piston custom made aluminum calliper braking system and an unequal A-arm suspension system with push rods with SP-4 way dampers.

Formula SAE Lincoln-2016 is a leading American competition for undergraduates to be held in Nebraska in June in which 30 teams from six countries have qualified to take part. FERN emerged as the only team representing not only Pakistan but the entire Asia.

Published in Dawn, May 13th, 2016