The International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) bagged the overall honours at the inaugural Proton Green Mobility Challenge (PGMC), held at the Sepang circuit last weekend. Their Saga EV, named ‘Smart Mobility,’ also won the Farthest Distance and Fastest Two Laps challenges.

The team took home cash prizes, a MOSTI (Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation) research grant of RM50,000, a trophy and an internship opportunity with Proton.

IIUM team driver Nasruddin said their car had an effective cooling system, which enabled efficient use of the battery. “It (cooling) definitely helped us in the challenges,” said the 24-year old mechanical engineering student, who is in his final year.

First and second overall runners-up were Universiti Malaysia Pahang with ‘UMP EV’ and Universiti Teknikal Malaysia Melaka (UTeM) with ‘Evergreen.’ There were also prizes for the four individual challenges, namely Farthest Distance, Quarter Mile Acceleration, Fastest Time for Two Laps and V-Max, as well as eight other prizes including Best Safety and Design and Best Innovation.

UTeM team leader Dr Ir Mohd Nazri also cited cooling, as well as the battery management system, as important issues to consider for EVs. Their car also won the V-Max challenge, topping out at 126 km/h.

Ex-Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was among the distinguished guests present to give away the prizes. He said PGMC was “a good effort” towards improving the country’s engineering capabilities, particularly in green technology.

Jointly organised between Proton and Agensi Inovasi Malaysia (AIM), PGMC saw 10 selected university teams, made up of lecturers and students, compete to develop and build fully-electric Proton Sagas. The aim: to seek innovative electric vehicle ideas from universities and see if the challenge to turn a fossil fuel-powered car into an eco-friendly EV has been met.

Each participating team received a standard Proton Saga, one lithium-ion polymer battery, a 30 kW electric motor and controller, brake booster vacuum pump, four standard 175/70 R13 tyres as well as RM20,000 development seed money. They then had nine months to convert their Sagas into EVs, while keeping within event regulations, culminating in the four final on-track challenges.

The universities that participated were UTP, UNITEN, UTeM, UNIKL MSI, UMP, UNISEL, IIUM, UTM, UNIMAP and UKM.

Watching the all-electric Sagas drive silently around Sepang was a surreal but interesting experience – if you’re wondering what it’s like to drive a Saga EV, you can read Danny’s test drive report.