Last Saturday, the R.V. College of Engineering, Bangalore unveiled Garuda, its super fuel efficient car! Team Leader Nishant Sarawgi, and members Kayaan, Darshan, Bharat, Jacob, Krishna, Gautham and Rakshit from the Department of Mechanical Engineering, R.V. College of Engineering, Bangalore developed a shared vision to build this super fuel efficient car! Power to the students of RVCE, Bangalore, India!
Yesterday, I again caught up with Nishant Sarawgi to learn more about the Garuda car and its commercial viability.
Potential for commercialization
According to him, the car is a R&D prototype on the whole. However, the designs and technologies that have gone into its making have the potential to create a significant impact on the automobile industry.
"The auto industry is hungry for greener technology, lesser emissions and high energy efficiencies, and therefore, several companies have expressed interest in this project. A lot of R&D has gone into it and if not now, then as the project progresses and evolves over time, the components and innovations therein will have the potential for commercialization," he said.
Sarawgi added: "As already mentioned, our car has also been built with the intention of participating in international competitions like the SAE Supermileage, USA, and Shell Eco-Marathon, UK, where the best student teams in the world compete to try and set new world records in energy efficiency/fuel economy.
"These competitions are very significant as they highlight major global issues of oil crisis and energy conservation besides creating awareness among the youth and general public to take constructive steps towards tackling such issues. Special focus is given to the use of new and innovative technologies to address these global issues."
As far as a commercial launch is concerned, the time-frame would depend on the massive amount of financial, technological, marketing and infrastructural support and the backup his team receives from the industry in due course of time.
Garuda's project cost Rs 4 lakhs
One question on everyone's mind has been, what can be the approximate price of Garuda? Sarawgi said: "It would be a little difficult to quote the exact price of 'Garuda' as it involved various other parameters apart from the components and machining that went into making the car.
"For example, logistics (both local and international), PR activities, transportation, administrative work, etc., also figured in the expenditure. The total project expenditure would be around Rs 4 lakhs (approximately, US $10,000).
From a short distance, Garuda seems to look like a prototype of an F1 model. How would the actual car look like: an SUV or a family car? While Sarawgi is thrilled that the prototype is being compared to an F1 car, he clarified that it doesn't actually look like an F1 model from any angle!
It is different in many ways: be it the shape, size, the body contours, the styling, the weight, the materials used, the system components, the driver's positioning and seating, driver's comfort, driver's visibility, driver safety measures, the overall weight-distribution, the location of the centre of gravity of the car, the car dimensions(length, width, height, etc.).
He said: "Moreover, an F1 car is all about the adrenalin and thrills of high speed, torque and power, whereas 'Garuda' is about high fuel-efficiency, energy conservation, greener technologies, and foray into the world of alternate energy resources and innovations. It has nothing to do with high speeds and power. The maximum speed of our existing car ranges from 40-60 kms per hour."
"The price tag attached with a Formula 1 car is usually in the range of Rs. 30-35 crores, whereas the price of our car would be in the range of Rs. 3.5-4 lakhs," he added.
An F1 car has four wheels. However, the car 'Garuda' has three wheels (bicycle wheels, which are extremely light-weight and offer optimal aerodynamic efficiency for high mileage).
Sarawgi said: "Also, an F1 car is made for motor racing, with very limited possibilities of actual implementation in the commercial road-driven cars, whereas 'Garuda' Supermileage prototype is built with the intention of trying to commercialize the designs and concepts of the team to find some meaningful and feasible applications in the consumer cars of tomorrow.
"We would say that the team is already thinking on the lines of trying to take the design and layout of the existing car to the next level by enhancing the overall vehicle performance and use of better components. We might have to go back to the drawing board with respect to certain systems of our car, so it is going to take some time before we finally freeze on the outer appearance (layout and design) of our future car. However, we are sure it would be nothing like a bulky and heavy SUV!"
Garuda runs on iso-octane pure petrol, kerosene
Great! What about the mileage? Does the Garuda car run on petrol or diesel, or some other fuel?
Sarawgi added: "Our car primarily runs on iso-octane pure petrol. It can also run on kerosene. It depends on the engine and other integrated systems used on the car. As of now, our car can run on both petrol as well as kerosene."
Finally, how green is the car, given that Garuda's thrust has been toward high fuel-efficiency, energy conservation, greener technologies, and foray into the world of alternate energy resources.
Nishant said: "There's a simple empirical formula to answer this question... Less fuel consumption --> lesser emissions --> lesser pollution --> minimal contribution to global warming and climate change, finally leads to a respectable green car!
"We are using petrol, no doubt, but there is minimal usage of petrol and the mileage that we get out of it saves a lot of fuel. There are concepts of hybrid, solar or electricity-propelled vehicles, but it would take a lot of time, funding and infrastructure to mass-produce such cars for the consumers, which are feasible and practical.
"We are starting off with petrol, but we can change it later on and make it run on a totally different fuel. It all depends on which technology is more relevant and feasible at that time: whether hybrid, electric, bio-diesel, methanol, solar, hydrogen fuel cells, etc.," he added.
He highlighted the fact that the prototype car is giving a very high mileage from petrol itself. Most cars of today run on petrol. Therefore, the prototype is of great interest to everyone!
"We hope that our modest attempt would inspire people of all ages and from all walks of life to take up individual or collective responsibility of conserving our energy resources and save the planet from the adverse effects of global warming and climate change," he concluded.
Best of luck, guys!