VIBRANT, upbeat music set the tone at NMMU yesterday when hundreds of South Africa's future professionals were introduced to the cars of the future.
Students, academics and technicians swarmed around five unique battery-powered cars exhibited at the North Campus ahead of today's launch of the E-Mobility Programme at the university's new engineering facility.
The programme – which will put the university at the forefront of electric vehicle development – aims to address infrastructure available for charging cars and energy-storage technology challenges that are critical to the support of a viable electric car industry.
The vehicles exhibited included the Nissan Leaf, the BMW Mini-E, the BMW ActiveE! and two exciting offerings developed by investment holding company Metair. The cars demonstrated the affordability of building electric vehicles with very reasonable speed, power and driving distance ranges.
Metair showcased two vehicles, one of which was a normal small car which had been converted to a battery-operated vehicle.
"We built the car as a battery-operated vehicle using locally sourced components and standard car batteries. Other electric vehicles are powered by expensive lithium batteries," Metair's Richard Amlima said.
Colin Ellison, a mechanical engineer who helped design the vehicle, said that with a 16-battery format, the vehicle could travel up to 120km before it needed to be recharged.
The programme will be launched during the official opening of the new multimillion-rand Electric Vehicle Technology Centre at the university and will be attended by key players in the motor industry.