A math teacher and innovator from Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, invented an affordable solar-powered electric car. Bilal Ahmed, who is originally from Tangmarg in Jammu and Kashmir, has been working on this project for more than 13 years and has finally reached the milestone.
He appears to have built a solar electric car from the body of the Maruti Suzuki 800, which is covered in solar panels on all sides to harness the sun’s energy. In addition, he has made a few modifications to the car body to install solar panels.
The 1988 Nissan Micra was one of the base models that he turned into an automatic car and then an electric car. He said, “I liked the design and thought it was a good fit for this project. But connecting the engine to the gears in this car was one of the toughest challenges I’ve ever been through.” He then equipped the car with solar power.
Most of the surface of the car is covered with black solar panels that can rotate in all directions. Powered by a high kilowatt motor, it can run like any other normal car on the road. There is room for 5 people, and the car is dual system, as it is also equipped with a high-end rechargeable battery. With charging point adjacent to dicky, it can be charged at any charging station.
According to the innovator, the solar panels automatically rotate towards more sunlight. This feature is very important, especially in places like Kashmir where there is a problem of cloudy weather during winter. As usual solar panels are typically 20 to 30 percent less efficient in that climate. Bilal said to solve the problem, he has used monocrystalline solar panels which are known to work efficiently in low visibility or also in bright sunlight.
“Cars like Mercedes, Ferrari, BMW are dreams for ordinary people,” he said, adding: “Only rich people can afford those cars. I think it would be great to make people feel luxurious through this innovation.”
“I always wanted to do something better for society. When moving around with local transportation, I often think: How important is transportation for mankind in the modern world? It occurred to me that I should design a future means of transportation that is affordable for everyone. This is how I started this dream project in 2009,” said Bilal as he coaxed him towards the solar car in his backyard.
“Lack of resources and lack of exposure are some of the main challenges one faces in Kashmir. While working on this car, I was often challenged to get equipment. Often my searches for products in the local market end in vain. So I had to switch to second-hand products or order things online,” said Bilal, reflecting on the challenges he faced in the project. “It took me more than a year to get a sophisticated sensor,” recalls Bilal.
Ahmed started by modifying the car after watching various videos and adding new features to it. “Initially I planned to make a car for people with disabilities, but due to some financial constraints, I couldn’t continue the project,” he said.
In 2009, the self-taught innovator started a project to make a solar-powered luxury car and completed the project this year.
According to him, the car has features that are equivalent to other luxury cars. The car runs only on electric power generated by monocrystalline solar panels.
Ahmed has used this particular type of solar panels because they produce maximum electricity in even the least amount of solar energy, and also because the panels are efficient and take up little space.
The car is fully automatic and has gull-wing doors to overcome space limitations.
“No one gave me any financial assistance,” he said. “If I get the support I need, maybe I’ll be the Elon Musk of Kashmir.”
His efforts have been praised by the internet including the former Chief Minister of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, Omar Abdullah.
Twitter users tagged Mahindra Group Chair Anand Mahindra and the Ministry of Education for assisting Ahmed with further assistance. “Ministry of Education, Anand Mahindra, please help this person to innovate and build good products and ultimately benefit the whole world in terms of environment and climate change,” tweeted Sharad Jadhav.
As Anand Mahindra said, “Bilal’s spirit is commendable. I commend him who developed this prototype himself. Obviously, the design needs to evolve into a production-friendly version. Maybe our team at Mahindra Research Valley can work with him to develop it further.”
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