Tokai University




The World Solar Challenge is not just a friendly competition, it is one of the world’s largest and toughest solar car races where the best and brightest from universities and institutes, along with some private entrepreneurs come together to test and promote the most efficient electric vehicles possible. The World Solar Challenge is aimed at promoting research on solar powered cars which one day could become a worldwide consumer product.

This October saw 43 teams from 22 countries arrive in Darwin for the start of the biennial World Solar Challenge 2015. With the solar cars only allowed to store a nominal 5kWh of energy at most, teams must use the energy from the sun or the kinetic energy of the car to power themselves to the finish line in Adelaide some 3000kms away.

Supported by RS Components and a number of their high quality products, the entry from Tokai University Solar Car Team ‘Tokai Challenger’ has been designed and tested by their 32 team members from Tokai University in collaboration with several Japanese companies. The support RS Components provides these young engineers not only helps the development of the car, it also helps develop these young engineering minds with a view to the future.

After qualification at Hidden Valley race track in Darwin the Tokai University solar car ‘Tokai Challenger ranked 8th. This did not hold the top Japanese team back on the first day of the competition as they raced to second place over the first 650kms.

The beginning of day two saw Tokai University only 5 minutes behind first place. However a few hours into racing, arriving at the third of several control stops the team was penalised after being in violation of rules on Day 1 incurring a 10 minute addition to the stop. This was not the end of the delays for the day with Tokai finding a tire problem setting them back once again. By the end of the day the team had covered another 751kms (1401kms from Darwin) sitting in fourth place about 20 minutes behind the lead car.

Travelling another 690kms over the third day of racing the team endured several damaged parts and a flat tire although they did not let this hold them back remaining in fourth place just 14kms behind the third place car. Day four saw Tokai another 657kms closer to the finish line which was sitting only 274kms away. As their final day of racing began, Tokai knew there was still a chance and started off in pursuit of third place just 30kms ahead. Their efforts certainly paid off with a last minute overtake during the last 50kms of racing. Tokai University crossed the finish line just after midday with a well deserved 3rd place result @ 38:50:07 travelling the full 3022kms under solar power.

Tokai team manager Kota Fukuda commented “We wanted to win the race, so we’re a little disappointed with the results” Tokai University has previously finished first in the 2009 and 2011 competition and came in second in 2013. Kota Fukuda continued on to say “despite the many problems we faced during the race, we were able to move up to 3rd place just before the finish line thanks to so many high performance parts and the students’ teamwork. We will continue to study the latest technologies and methods to enhance our racecars performance”

The World Solar Challenge event concluded with all teams showcasing their solar cars in Victoria Square, Adelaide along with a parade through the City of Adelaide streets. An awards ceremony named 1st place Nuon (Netherlands), 2nd place Twente (Netherlands), and 3rd Tokai Challenger .

Watch the video on the Tokai Challenger here