When it comes to the success of the electric car, billionaire Elon Musk is viewed as nothing short of a miracle worker. But roughly 8,000 miles away from Tesla’s Palo Alto headquarters, Segun Oyeyiola has also managed to make something extraordinary on a smaller scale.
Oyeyiola, an engineering senior student of Obafemi Awolowo University, in Ife, Osun State, Nigeria, has spent a year converting a Volkswagen Beetle, using mainly scrap parts donated by friends and family, into a $6000 wind and solar powered car. He describes his creation as “Nigeria’s future car.”
Dr. John Preston, chair of McMaster University’s engineering physics department and faculty advisor to the school’s solar car team, says he’s never seen anything like Oyeyiola’s contraption, which also comes with a GPS app that monitors car health.
“If you could find a way to use both wind and solar in the same vehicle, that would be a marvelous thing,” he 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.”
The retrofitted Beetle does not only come equipped with a giant solar panel on the roof, there’s also a wind turbine under the hood that takes advantage of airflow while the car is in motion, subsequently turning the turbine’s rotors and charging the battery at the back of the car. To ensure the car doesn’t buckle under the weight of all the additional eco-friendly tech, Oyeyiola also installed a super strong suspension system.
Currently, the battery takes four to five hours to charge, which makes it less than ideal, but the car is still in the early stages of design. The biggest challenges, Oyeyiola says, came from finding the best materials to use, and the people telling him he was wasting his time and resources to the project.
Oyeyiola’s response was:
“I wanted to reduce carbon dioxide emission[s] going to our atmosphere that lead 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. Therefore, I came up of building a car that will use both winds and solar energy for its movement,” he continued. “This was my personal project because of the problem I’m planning to solve.”