University celebrates SunChaser solar car team achievements

2 November 2022

The University hosted a lunch hour celebration for the SunChaser solar car team on 31 October in recognition of and to applaud the SunChaser energy efficient, high technology solar cars, which were built by staff and students from the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment since 2014.

In his speech, titled, The Pursuit of the Sun and the Much that calls for More, Prof Tinyiko Maluleke, Vice-Chancellor and Principal, said TUT’s students deserve a prize for their raw talent and their indomitable skills. “Their hunger for knowledge that works, far outstrips the many odds they face and will still face in their lives. Student who are part of the Sunchaser4 solar car team, are a perfect example of the kind of student I am talking about,” he said.


“About 30 years from now, when our highways and roads will be full of solar powered cars, at a time that petrol and diesel will be relics of the past, used only as teaching tools, the story of the TUT solar car team will be told.  It will be a beautiful story about a magnificent team of engineering students and academics who came together, with the assistance of other colleagues from other universities, and produced four models of SunChaser solar cars between 2014 to 2022, with each model coming with vast improvements from the last,” added Prof Maluleke.

“SunChaser4 is a beautiful car, not in the sense of luxury, but in the sense of science and engineering coming together with human ingenuity. The strategic aim of the solar car is to save the earth,” he continued. “Thirty years from now, it will be remembered that in January 2022, the TUT SunChser4 travelled to Namibia, completing an amazing total of 2200 kilometres. SunChaser4, and all its siblings before it, signals a significant milestone in the centuries old science of human beings trying to harness the power of the sun,” he said. 

In her address, Dr Vathiswa Papu-Zamxaka, DVC: Research, Innovation and Engagement, said the event was hosted to applaud the achievements of the Faculty, but the SunChaser4 solar car in particular. “In the recent Sasol Solar Car Challenge, we emerge as number one in Africa. Although we obtained a third place internationally, we are proud that we are leading the pack in terms of our continent. For that we owe a big thank you to the team,” she said.

“As a University that is moving from good to great, it is important to reflect on what this achievement means to us? As a University, we celebrate success and excellence,” she added.

“Through the achievements we have observed over the years, the South African parliament has also applauded TUT on the solar car successes. The announcement was made at the National Assembly on 15 March 2022. Such acknowledgements will motivate staff and students at the University to be even more innovative,” she added.

The Executive Dean of the Faculty, Prof Grace Kanakana, thanked the solar car team, its partners and especially TUT management, for their support, providing funding and creating a conducive environment for the team to succeed.

“Our achievements and this celebration will give the Faculty an opportunity to showcase our work. If we do get an opportunity to compete in Australia in 2023, I believe we will make a greater mark,” she said.

She added that the Faculty is aware of the capabilities of all the solar car team members (who are from different departments) and will ensure to provide a conducive environment where the team will flourish.

Prof Tinyiko Maluleke and Dr Vathiswa Papu-Zamxaka (centre) with members of the solar car team.

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