Nigerian student builds solar car from scrap


The thing with solar-powered cars is that you can only drive them during the day. It’s a problem solved by Nigerian student Segun Oyeyiola, who added a wind turbine to his Beetle. Now he can drive all night, too.

Solar powered car Segun Oyeyiola shows off his solar- and wind-powered Beetle (Image: OAU Peeps)

Makoko Floating School: a model of Nigerian cutting edge design
Africa refocused: images of Ghana
Khi Solar One: renewable energy for the ages
One million solar lamps light up Africa
D’Sa lauded for fight for environmental justice

Publishing Media Club South Africa stories - click here

Compiled by Melissa Javan

It cost a Nigerian man more than R70 000 to fight his personal battle against global warming and renovate his Volkswagen Beetle, but now he no longer has to fill his tank with expensive and polluting petrol: his car runs entirely on solar and wind energy.

One of Segun Oyeyiola’s challenges was overcoming people’s scepticism. Many told him he was wasting his time. But he took no notice and soldiered on, determined to build a vehicle that could run without fuel.

A senior engineering student in the Electronic and Electrical Department of Obafemi Awolowo University, installed a giant solar panel on top of his Beetle; he also inserted a wind turbine under the bonnet.

Business magazine’s fastcoexist reports that Dr John Preston, chair of McMaster University’s engineering physics department in Canada and faculty adviser to the school’s solar car team, said he had never seen anything like Oyeyiola’s machine.

The vehicle comes with a GPS app that monitors the car’s health. “If you could find a way to use both wind and solar in the same vehicle, that would be a marvellous thing,” Preston said. “Using wind and solar means you wouldn’t have to drive just during daylight hours. If he has figured a way to do it that would be quite remarkable.”

Preston explained that the wind turbine allowed air to flow into the grill while the car was moving, subsequently turning the turbine’s rotors and charging the battery at the back of the car. Oyeyiola also built a strong suspension system to carry the weight of the battery.

It took him more than a year to retrofit his vehicle, using spare parts he sourced for free from family and friends. In an interview with news agency Africanspotlight Oyeyiola said he didn’t want to build a car that ran on fuel because it was expensive for the common man in his country. The combustion of fuel also added to climate change, he explained.

Oyeyiola is concerned about the effect people have on climate. He has tweeted his worries, encouraging people to work together.

Speaking to fastcoexist, he said he would keep on improving his car until it became Nigeria’s future car.

His solar- and wind-powered car was a personal project, he said, because of what he was planning to solve. “I wanted to reduce carbon dioxide emissions going to our atmosphere that leads to climate change or global warming which has become a new reality, with deleterious effect: seasonal cycles are disrupted, as are ecosystems; and agriculture, water needs and supply, and food production are all adversely affected.”

Watch solar and wind energy run the car: