The story behind IIT-Bombay Racing's electric racing car Orca

Their vision is to revolutionise electric mobility in India focusing on sustainable technology.

 |  3-minute read |   28-06-2016
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When Shivam Garg and 20 of his friends participate in Europe’s biggest educational motorsport event, Formula Student, on July 14 in London, UK, it will be another feather in Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay's cap.

Theirs is the only Indian team which has designed an electric car for the competition. They will try to win their fourth straight award as the best non-European team at the event.

A passion to design and fabricate electric race cars and represent India at the pinnacle of world motorsport competition has united the group known as IIT-Bombay Racing, a team of 75 students from 10 different engineering disciplines.

iit_062816080650.jpg The IIT-Bombay Racing team.

They have been designing electric racing cars every year for the past five years in a row. They come up with modifications and improvements each year and make their cars more revulutionary.

Little wonder then that they have been adjudged the Best Non-European team for three consecutive years for the best improvements in design. They also received full points in design for “innovation”, and established themselves as the best Indian FS team.

The competition is held in Silverstone, UK. More than 100 student teams from around the globe participate in the event with both IC engine and electric cars. IIT Bombay Racing participates with an all-electric rear wheel-driven car. The teams are assessed on the basis of engineering, design, cost as well as the dynamic performance of the cars.

This year the IIT team has developed a car drawing from great technology. Named "Orca" (Killer Whale), the car has been designed to get the maximum acceleration possible. With a theoretical acceleration of 0 to 100kmph in 3.47 seconds, Orca is much faster than many models of powerful cars of companies like Porsche, Tesla, and Lamborghini.

“We are all passionate about cars,” says Archit Sanadhya, chief marketing officer of IIT Bombay Racing. “Whenever we get free time we discuss car only,” says Sanadhya. He says the team has a vision to revolutionise electric mobility in India focusing on sustainable technology and innovation.

“Orca is our fifth entry at Formula Student,” Sanadhya says. “The major learning from last year was the need for reliability in implementing major changes.” The car has been designed in a way that it can score computations to finish in the Top 20.

The students did not stop at designing the car. They found ways of generating funds for the project, which cost around Rs 45 lakh. They got 25 per cent funding from NRB Bearings. CEAT Tyres and Tata Motors invested one-fifth and one-eighth of the budget requirements.

IIT-Bombay itself contributed one-third of the budget. The remaining funds were generated by other companies such as Teconnectivity, Harness Techniques (HT), Vector, Smaaash, Imaginarium, Asian Paints, Vactech and Scantech.

“We are confident that we will do better than the last year,” says Shivam Garg. He points out that the team has consistently produced one of the fastest Indian electric race cars, focusing on acceleration.

This is parallel to the FAME (Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of Electric vehicles) initiative of the Narendra Modi government.

By the time he and his team members resume classes after returning from the competition, other teams would have begun thinking about next year’s entry.


Kiran Tare Kiran Tare @kirantare

The writer is senior associate editor, India Today.

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