Nigerian Student Designs Wind And Solar-Powered Car From Scraps

This old Volkswagen isn't for #vanlife.

Segun Oyeyiola with his wind and solar-powered car. Credit: Inhabitat

It seems like everyone is modifying Volkswagen cars these days, but you’ve never seen one like this. Segun Oyeyiola, an engineering student at Nigeria’s Obagemi Awolowo University has redesigned an old Volkswagen Beetle to run using only renewable energy sources— wind and solar powers.

Oyeyiola, now in his last year of university, spent the better part of a year retrofitting the old Beetle. He put a solar panel on top of the car, and a wind turbine in the engine. The majority of the work was completed using scraps donated by family and friends, the remaining cost amounted to an estimated $6,000.

“I came up [with] building a car that will use both winds and solar energy for its movement,” said Oyeyiola. “This was my personal project because of the problem I’m planning to solve.” He plans to continue improving the car, particularly the battery, which requires 4-5 hours to completely charge. He’s even added a GPS device that measures car health, as well as a strong suspension system to hold the weight of the battery and turbine.

Africa, with a climate mostly semi-arid and arid, has been hit especially hard by the effects of global warming. In reference to the problems facing his region, Oyeyiola wrote in an email to Co.Exist:

“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.”

Credit: Inhabitat

Dr. John Preston, from McMaster University, serves as the advisor to the school’s solar car team. He says Oyeyiola’s car is remarkable. “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.”

Oyeyiola says the biggest challenges he has faced is finding the best parts to improve the car, and also people telling him that he’s wasting his time. Eventually, he hopes to make his design popular throughout Nigeria, where the long sunny days almost year-round are ideal for producing solar power.

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