UKZN Vehicles Steal the Show at Cars in the Park Exhibition

By | November 16, 2018


Students and staff from the School of Mechanical Engineering exhibit their projects at the Cars in the Park event.

The six vehicles students and staff of UKZN’s School of Mechanical Engineering exhibited at the annual Cars in the Park event in Pietermaritzburg were all massive crowd pullers!

The innovative vehicles – which stood out at the annual exhibition of vintage and classic cars, trucks, vans and motorbikes – are among the School’s most prized design-projects.

UKZN vehicles on display were the Wing-In-Ground Effect (WIG) Flying Hovercraft; the Hulamin Solar Car; the Mamba Electric Vehicle; the Human Operated Recumbent – Electric Trike (THOR-ET); the Smart Technology Pedal Bus, and the much admired 1926 Model T Ford, named Tin Lizzie.

They are all ongoing projects developed over the years with the help of industry contributions.

Head of the School of Mechanical Engineering, Professor Glen Bright, said the vehicles told a story of the evolution of engineering design and transportation.

‘With the exception of the Model T Ford, which was refurbished, these amazing transport innovations were designed and developed from scratch by students, both at undergraduate and postgraduate level. We are proud to showcase this exceptional work to the public.’

Crowds were entertained with demonstrations of both the WIG Flying Hovercraft and the Mamba Electric Vehicle.

And folks who wanted to experience the vehicles in motion were treated to a test drive of both the Pedal Bus and the THOR-ET.

To read more about the Cars in the Park event visit

•   he Mamba Electric Vehicle is a full-size electric sports car which goes from 0 to 100 km/h in just under five seconds and has a range of up to 200km on a single charge. Students built this high-performing vehicle on a relatively small budget.

•   Typhoon, the Wing-In-Ground Effect (WIG) Flying Hovercraft, is a full-scale prototype of a land vehicle that has the ability to fly over terrain such as rivers, rocky outcrops and small valleys. The vehicle is designed and manufactured with a hovercraft base for amphibious surface operation and uses the ground effect phenomenon for low altitude flight.

•   The Hulamin Solar Car exhibits the cutting-edge of solar power and electric vehicle technology. The car has silicon solar panels to harvest energy from the sun which is then stored in lithium ion batteries providing power for the car to travel long distances with speeds of up to 126km/h.The car, developed by UKZN Engineering students with funding from Hulamin, was entered in the 2015 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge and finished in 13th position, ahead of teams from other renowned international tertiary institutions, including Cambridge University.

•   The Smart Technology Pedal Bus represents a mode of transport that responds to needs for more environmentally friendly modes of transportation. The bus is propelled by people – the driver sits at the front, controlling the steering, braking and power assistance, while rows of people sit on bike seats and pedal power it forward. An electric motor, which uses solar technology, assists power the vehicle. A team of developers is working to further automate the vehicle so that it becomes a driverless bus with the ability to travel pre-programmed routes around a city centre, picking up and dropping off passengers at bus stops.

•   THOR-ET – the Human Operated Recumbent – Electric Trike – is a three-wheeled vehicle propelled by a single electric hub motor, with the addition of human pedal power for assistance up steep inclinations.

•   Model T Ford Tin Lizzie is a showpiece representing innovation and technology that was cutting-edge in its time. The vehicle was bought by UKZN and refurbished for use in teaching students the history of engineering in transport.

Sejal Desai

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