Illanga II

UJ’s solar vehicle unveiled – Sasol Solar Challenge

Johannesburg, SA, 6 August 2014RS Components (RS), the trading brand of Electrocomponents plc (LSE:ECM), the world’s leading high service distributor of electronics and maintenance products is very excited as the countdown to the Sasol Solar Challenge continues. On the evening of the 5th of August, the University of Johannesburg’s (UJ) Solar Team unveiled Ilanga II. Ilanga II is UJ’s solar powered vehicle set to compete in the 2014 Sasol Solar Challenge.

The Sasol Solar Challenge is a bi-annual race whereby Universities from all over the world participate with their custom made solar vehicles, built by the students. This year the race will start in Pretoria on the 27th of September. It will continue to run over the course of 8 days, and will end in Cape Town on the 4th of October 2014.

Ilanga II echoes the values of aerodynamic success and high performance with striking graphics reflecting its audacious, aggressive character and design – attesting UJ’s futuristic vision of: Rethink. Reinvent.

Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment (FEBE) executive dean, Prof Saurabh Sinha noted in a previous announcement that the Faculty is confident the new design coupled with innovative engineering, will outdrive international and provincial competitors in the endurance challenge.

RS Components provided a R1 million sponsorship towards the UJ team. This means that UJ is able to choose up to R1 million’s worth of products from any of RS’s 500 000 products, stretching across 2500 brands.

The project, designed to assist students in becoming industry ready includes obtaining funding for their projects.

Their fundraising drives – together with academic and administrative support partners from Resolution Circle (UJ’s specialised technology research and development centre) have resulted in 25 industry partners, including RS Components, Siemens, Eskom, Sasol and MTN, putting their weight behind the team’s green technology drive.  

General Manager for RS Components, Brian Andrew says, “Since the Faculty is driven by active research and focused on commercialising patents through the Resolution Circle, we are looking for various ways to assist UJ in their research and development.”

Andrew adds “research and development in universities remain a prime source of knowledge and innovation, and as a quality global electronics distributor, RS Components can reinforce their endeavours”.

“Research and development remain important for future engineering developments, and in how South Africa drives innovation in the global economy. It is equally important for South Africa to continue research and development in an area such as alternative energy,” he says.

“Discovering and accessing new frontiers of knowledge often requires highly-educated and skilled human capital, and large-scale investment – which is why we want to reinforce our partnership with further assistance in knowledge capacity and capital inputs.”

The UJ’s entry into the Solar Challenge is an attempt to show young people that building alternative fuel vehicles can be fun. The excitement resulted in over 300 students across the University having joined the fan club: the UJ Solar Society, and many have already signed up for try-outs and to be one of the four relay drivers. 

Nickey Janse van Rensburg, mechanical engineering science lecturer and academic, previously noted the Sasol Solar Challenge is a platform to foster research in alternative energy and fuels, to develop local expertise, and to encourage industry participation and community engagement on environmental issues.

Based on these collaborative partnerships and participation, Ilanga II has fast become an international brand, highlighting UJ’s global excellence and stature, multidisciplinary approach to teaching, and incorporating ideas and expertise from the fields of management, art, marketing, industrial design and engineering.

The 2014 Sasol Solar Challenge is not just a race; the endurance challenge focuses on the longest distance covered, time, maximum speed and solar energy generated.

Since this is a distance race instead of a speed race, teams will have the option to expand their daily distance by driving loops varying from 58km up to 132km. Loops can be driven more than once, which would give competitors the ability to travel as far as they can on a single day.

The UJ team is more than ready to take on international and local competitors and will continue to focus on race strategy, competitive edge and reviewing market research.

In 2013, the UJ Solar team received the SANEA Energy Award with Ilanga II. The prestigious award recognises outstanding sustained individual and corporate contribution to the enhancement of the South African energy environment. Recipients of this award have demonstrated the qualities of leadership, innovation, initiative and vision.

The support generated from the challenge had also sparked great interest in the international World Solar Challenge in Australia and the Shell Eco-marathon in Qatar, both in 2015. 

FEBE is currently putting together a team that will work on designing and building ‘Nano’, a smaller electric vehicle to participate in the Shell Eco-marathon in Qatar. 



About RS Components

RS Components is the market leader in the high service level distribution of electrical, electronic, mechanical, tools and industrial products. Operating in 26 countries whilst serving a further 100 through third-party distributors, RS serves every sector of industry in the procurement of their products relating to maintenance, repair, operations, low volume production, research and development. With over 500 000 products across 2500 leading brands, the company is committed to ensuring that their 1,5 million customers have fast access to a broad, as well as deep range, of products and technologies, all under one roof.

RS’s customers, whether ordering single or multiple items, experience a quick, easy, secure, painless and cost effective process. The RS catalogue, available at, offers full colour pictures with extensive clear product specifications. Free access to thousands of datasheets ensures the correct product choice. Order placement is easily facilitated through, the call centre, e-mail, fax and trade counter. Locally held stock is delivered to customers within 24 hours, and products held internationally, within four to six working days.  

It is proven that departments traditionally spend 80% of their time sourcing products that account for only 20% of their total procurement spend. RS is focussed on reducing the customers “total cost of product ownership” by reducing the need to make multiple calls to various companies to source products, reducing supplier related administration and allowing for the amalgamation as well as consolidation of supplier bases. Through this process, procurement efficiency is improved and time is freed up to concentrate on the more important business decisions.

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Press Office:                                                               
Tanya Erasmus
Marketing Communications Manager
RS Components South Africa
+27 11 691 9345
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