About the SSC
The Sasol Solar Challenge is a biennial competition aimed at showcasing the power of alternative energy. Emphasising engineering and innovation, the competition gives South African and international university students in the disciplines of science, engineering and technology an opportunity to showcase their ingenuity by designing world-class solar-powered vehicles.
Participating teams are expected to design, build, and manage their solar-powered vehicles as they race across the South African terrain, covering a distance of 2 000 km of varying road conditions.
The eight-day event commences in Pretoria at the CSIR and concludes in Cape Town at the V&A Waterfront. The 2016 race will take place from 24 September – 1 October 2016.
The Sasol Solar Challenge 2016 promises to be the best event yet, characterised by strong contenders and world-class engineering. This is truly where engineering meets innovation.
— Nuon Solar Team (@NuonSolarTeam) September 24, 2016
The pioneers – 2008
South Africa hosted its first official solar challenge in 2008 after two attempts to run the race had been previously cancelled at the last minute.
Teams were initially reluctant to participate, and the challenge had to prove its worth. Japanese solar car team Tokai was the first international team to come on board, and competed in 2008 with an eleven year old car that went on to win the challenge. From this victory they were able to use their experience to enter the World Solar Challenge in 2009, and ultimately win the title of world champion.
The Tokai team has competed in every solar challenge hosted by South Africa since, and are back in 2016 for a chance at gold.
In 2010, South Africa hosted its second solar challenge. Japanese team Tokai returned to compete against brave South African universities – and one high school, the Deustche Schule Johannesburg. The international team raised the standard for the SA teams competing, inspiring them to do even better in years to come. They won the challenge, and everyone including the organisers gained invaluable experience that would go into turning the Challenge into what it is today.
The Deutsche Schule Johannesburg returns to the Sasol Solar Challenge in 2016 with a small team of high school students and their science teachers, competing in the Challenger class against some of the best cars in the world.
With the Challenge gaining international attention, in 2012 the focus was to develop South African teams. It was successful, and half the teams competing in this event were local. It was to be the last year of the circular route which started and ended in Pretoria. In 2012 the winning trophy was shared between Tokai from Japan and the North West University from South Africa.
In 2014, Sasol became the title sponsors of the Sasol Solar Challenge, which hosted ten teams on a brand new route. Now running from Pretoria to Cape Town, the route is still a showcase of South Africa’s incredible landscape, along with all the varying altitudes and environmental variety which attracts teams to this event.
The 2014 Sasol Solar Challenge was won by the Nuon solar team from the Netherlands.
The 2016 event will be held from 24 September to 1 October, with 14 teams competing across three classes.