Four students from Technical University of Kenya have thrown their weight in the innovative world by creating a 150cc rear drive off car buggy. The mechanical engineering students, Peter Mbugua, Shadrack Maina, John Wambugu and Amos Mwangi, are behind this amazing invention and describe the project as an achievement for them and for the university at large.
“The idea of creating such a car came in fourth year while we were undertaking the Industrial Based Learning (IBL) program for four months, as it is a requirement for every group of student to come up with something unique. We came up with the idea and design to where it is right now,” says Shadrack Maina.
“After visiting the Numerical Machining Complex (NMC) and taking a look of the pioneer car, we decided to take the chance and create an off road buggy 150cc car. What actually motivated us to come up with the car is that the off road car is rarely produced in the Kenyan market as most cars are conventional and their production is large compared to off road cars,” remarks John Wambugu.
Having taken a test drive on the rear wheeled car, I noticed the engine was located at the rear part of the car and the shell of the car had no cover unlike normal bodied cars. I asked the students, “Why?” Amos Mwangi explains, “This is for the purposes of air cooling and easy trouble shooting in case of a breakdown unlike a normal car where one has to open all parts to repair.”
Shadrack Maina (L), Peter Mbugua (C), Amos Mwangi (in black shirt) and John Wambugu (in white coat)
Further explanation follows, “The exhaust system is that of a motorbike to help in getting rid of excess exhaust gases from a controlled combustion inside an engine. The stability of the car and its wheels are one of a kind making it perfect to manoeuvre in areas where large scale farming is practised. Also, the car is cheap to produce and can be used to pull a cart with an extension at the front,” adds Peter Mbugua.
It was not all smooth sailing for the students to create such an invention by themselves as the provision of funds was a great challenge. Buying the spare parts in small scale is always very expensive compared to when buying in large scale, but this didn’t deter their efforts in achieving their goal. The team regarded the car, which uses petrol for its operations, as a fast one for it can cover a distance of 180 kilometers per hour.
The engineers wish to target large scale farmers or individuals who like social activities such as golfing or even long drives where one can connect the off road car to a normal car. The young engineers want to market their products to institutions of learning which can use the car to deliver goods from one department to another for faster accessibility.
With the rise of duplication of inventions, the team is on the process of getting protection rights from Kenya Industrial Protection Institute and is seeking partnerships with companies like Toyota Kenya and DT Dobie. They plan to develop a racing car by end of year study and once this off road car is completed fully, it will be going for about KES 250,000 to 300,000 for sale to big companies or individuals.
Their advice to aspiring engineers is that nothing comes easy, hard work is the determining factor and once an opportunity and resources are given with support from universities, innovative ideas like this can go very far.