IIT-D scores big on track

IIT Delhi got two podium finishes in the Formula Student Championship, becoming the first  Indian team  in history to do so

A team of undergraduate students from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi has won prizes in two student virtual competitions. The team from Formula Racing, the student-led automobile club of IIT Delhi has won prizes in Formula Student World Championships Australasia 2020.

This was the first time an Indian team finished in the top five of the prestigious event, considered the World Cup of student car designing.

The Axlr8r Formula Racing team secured the fourth position in Formula SAE Australasia 2020. This is also the first and the only Indian electric vehicle team to win two prizes in a single competition. The team conceptualised, cost and designed the electric vehicle during the Covid-19 lockdown when the IIT Delhi campus was closed to students and without access to the workshop.

“Usually such events happen on F1 tracks, but due to the pandemic, this is the first time it was a virtual event,” says Sudhanshu Ranjan, a final year student pursuing a BTech in textile engineering at IIT Delhi.

The event usually takes place in two parts – a static event, wherein the participants explain their design and planning to the judges, and the dynamic event, wherein the race car is tested on track. Being a virtual event this year, only the static events took place.

“We had to work on the cost, manufacture and design and present our work virtually. So we were working on the static segments like the design event and the cost event and the business plan event. The preparation of the event starts with the designing of the car itself. It takes approximately a year to conceptualize the design and then fabricate it and test it and take it to the competition.” Ranjan is also the vice-captain of the IIT Delhi team.

The car that the team presented was a lightweight machine – only 235 kgs- with a 400 Volt battery.

For the “cost event”, the team prepared a “cost report” based on the size of the vehicle, its components, and the necessary manufacturing steps.

For the “business event”, it had to present their business plan for the constructed prototype to a fictitious company represented by judges.

In Australasia, they competed against some of the best international teams and achieved the first position in the “cost event”, and the second position in the “business event”.

“The cost event is where we outscored our opponents”, says Vivek Mahindrakar, the team captain. The car we built was sustainable and cost us a total of Rs 55 lakh, which is pretty cheap considering its durability and performance on the track. A car of this quality usually costs in excess of three crores. So, the car they designed was one-sixth of what the original cars cost.

This cost-effective planning got them an edge in the business event as well, wherein the judges were impressed by the prototype they wanted to create.” Considering the track performance and the features of the car at such a low price, the judges really applauded our efforts

The team scored 106/150 in the “design event”. Overall, the Axlr8r Formula Racing team secured the fourth position in Formula SAE Australasia 2020.

The team of 18 core members is now looking forward to participating in the world championship, formula students event in Germany scheduled for August 2021.

“During the…nation-wide lockdown, with no access to the workshop for more than 10 months, the whole Axlr8r Formula Racing team was working on advancements in the design and preparing for static events,” said Vivek Mahindrakar, team captain, Axlr8r Formula Racing and a final year student pursuing a BTech in mechanical engineering.

When asked if he wants to pursue his passion for car designing into the future. Vivek says that though it is his dream to do so, joining it right from the start is not a viable option in India, considering there is no future career prospect.

“I want to design cars in the future, and in all probability start a startup where I would encourage more race car designers in future. That is the dream”, he says. He also believes, however, that unless India achieves significantly in the racing circuit in the world, career prospects of car designers will always be less in the country.


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