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Meet the Srinagar engineer who turned his 1988 Nissan Micra into a solar-powered EV

Moneycontrol logo Moneycontrol 25-06-2022 Irfan Amin Malik
Meet the Srinagar engineer who turned his 1988 Nissan Micra into a solar-powered EV © Moneycontrol Meet the Srinagar engineer who turned his 1988 Nissan Micra into a solar-powered EV

What do you do with a really old car, at a time when petrol costs more than Rs 100 at your nearest petrol pump?

An engineer in Srinagar, Bilal Ahmad Mir, 41, has turned his 1988 Nissan Micra into a solar-powered electric vehicle (EV).

To be sure, he couldn't have done it in anticipation of petrol breaching Rs 100 a litre - though he is citing the current cost of gas as another reason to support his EV.

It has taken Mir over a decade to complete the car transformation. Now, he says, he's raring to scale it, because "not everyone is able to have a car, mainly when fuel prices are soaring".

Start line

Mir hails from Srinagar’s uptown Sanat Nagar area. For the last 13 years, he says he's been spending 3-5 hours per day and 40 percent of his income per month on the project - the total cost of the prototype has come to about Rs 15 lakh.

During the development stage, Mir says he studied how luxury car makers, from DeLorean to Tesla, do things. One place where the design inspiration can be seen is in the gull-wing doors.

Seeing photos of the car, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah tweeted: “Solar car with #DeLorean #BackToTheFuture style doors. Certainly looks the part.”

Solar car with #DeLorean #BackToTheFuture style doors. Certainly looks the part. https://t.co/fKF7iZup4j

— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) June 20, 2022

Mir is now seeking government and public support to scale his idea, and open a car manufacturing plant similar to The DeLorean Motor Company (DMC).

“I was inspired by engineer and innovator DeLorean who started a company DMC which ultimately motivated me to make a luxurious as well as affordable car for the common people... I would open a motor company similar to DeLorean for mass production of cars. I will name the company YMC after my children Yusha and Mysha,” Mir says.

How it works

Mir's car runs on the electrical energy generated by the monocrystalline solar panels.

“It was originally a 1988 Nissan Micra car which I converted into a fully-automatic car," Mir explains. "Almost every available surface of my car is covered in solar panels, from the bonnet to the rear windshield. Besides that I have put in gull-wing doors, which open upwards - like the ones in a Ferrari.”

Every year in winters, there's a power crisis in Kashmir. Mir says his EV can generate energy from solar panels even on low sunlight days. “Initially I created it as an electric vehicle (EV) but later I added solar panels to supplement the power,” Mir adds.

Besides being an engineer, Mir teaches maths to hundreds of students at a private tuition centre in Srinagar’s Parraypora. Mir says his love of maths came in handy on the project, in areas like "the weight management of the car and balancing the gullwing doors (which) was an uphill task”.

Mir says his work on the car concluded in May and the response on social media has been very positive. Mir is being supported by the innovation centre at the National Institute of Technology (NIT) Srinagar. He has also filed a patent for his car, and is waiting for the response.

If it goes to production, Mir has a name for the car, too. He wants it to be called the "Innovative Car".

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