The North-West University made history when their debut solar car, the Batmobile, shared the overall first place in the 2012 Sasol Solar Challenge with the Tokai University from Japan. Twelve teams, including teams from South Africa, Japan, India and Wales, undertook the 5200 km journey from Pretoria, via Springbok, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Bloemfontein, Pietermaritzburg, Secunda, to cross the finish line in Pretoria again.

Not only did the NWU take first place in the Olympia class, but one international and two national records were broken, namely the longest daily distance travelled, and the longest overall distance travelled by an Olympia class vehicle using only sun power. Other awards included, the Safety award and the “Spirit of Africa” award.  The NWU were further joint recipients with Tokai University from Japan of the International Motorsports Federation (FIA) alternative energies cup.


Race Info

Weight of car: 309 kg

Solar panel area: 6 m2

Distance travelled: 1087 km

Time travelled:  91 hours

Average speed:  11.9 km/h

Duration of race: 11 days

Date: 18 September – 28 September

Route: Pretoria, Vryburg, Upington, Springbok, Cape Town, Oudtshoorn, Port Elizabeth, East London, Aliwal-North, Bloemfontein, Harrismith, Pietermaritzburg, Vryheid, Secunda, Pretoria.


Awards:                Event co-winners

1st position in the Olympia Class

Longest overall distance travelled (Olympia Class)

Longest daily distance travelled (Olympia Class)

Joint recipients: FIA Alternative Energies Cup

Safety award

“Spirit of Africa"




Challenge Class Results (Three wheels)

Team Position Time (hours) Distance (kilometres) Average speed (km/h)
Tokai University, Japan 1 71 4632 65.2
Kenjiro Shinozuka, Japan 2 90 4632 52.5
University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa 3 100 1930 19.3

Olympia Class Results (Four wheels)

Team Position Time (hours) Distance (kilometres) Average speed (km/h)
North-West University, South Africa 1 91 1087 11.9
University of Johannesburg, South Africa 2 105 847 8.1
Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa 3 100 409 4.1