Shaping the future

The self-styled 'crazy team' from Japan was founded in 2009 with a pledge to do things differently, achieving success through innovation and original thinking.


Be a Nerd, Believe in Yourself, Achieve World Victory!

Founded in 2009 by Professor Hamane Hiroto, an expert in Mechanical Engineering, and eight recruits who had never seen or touched a solar car before, the Kogakuin University Solar Team (KGU Solar) has since developed a reputation for doing things their own way.

Winning the ‘CSIRO Technical Innovation Award’ at the 2019 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge (BWSC) for their unique hydropneumatic suspension system is one example, among many, of a team pledged to do things differently, achieving success through innovation and original thinking.

Working out of the Solar Vehicle Research Center, part of the Faculty of Advanced Engineering at the universities Hachioji Campus on the western outskirts of Tokyo, KGU Solar now boasts more than 100 members. Student-led, the team is responsible for developing and designing vehicles, manufacturing them, and running them in races, including the world championship of solar car racing, the BWSC.

Taking on the World

One of the toughest races in the world, the BWSC has been held every two years since 1987. The 2019 event saw 44 teams from 21 countries attempt the 3,000km journey across the Australian outback, from Darwin to Adelaide, in cars powered exclusively by energy from the sun.

A young team, KGU Solar made their BWSC debut in 2013 and secured a remarkable second-place finish in the cruiser class at the following race in 2015. In 2019, despite crashing twice due to adverse weather conditions and strong winds, KGU Solar finished fifth with their car 'Eagle', a single-seat challenger-class vehicle built for sustained endurance, total energy efficiency, and speed.

Domestically, KGU Solar know what it takes to win. They are the reigning champions and four-time winners of the World Green Challenge (WGC), a biennial solar car race held in Akita Prefecture, Japan.

Fuelled by success, defined by innovation, KGU Solar had their sights firmly set on extending their WGC winning streak to five and becoming World Champions at the BWSC in 2021. That was until COVID-19 led to both events being cancelled.

With the race calendar in disarray, the team decided to focus instead on development, working together online during the various states of emergency in Japan, and on-campus when possible; designers and engineers were able to study and refine past vehicles while developing concepts and designs for an all-new car to be unveiled in 2023.

At the same time, Professor Hamane, still a driving force behind the teams' success, worked to increase participation amongst younger students, collaborating with a local Junior and Senior High School attached to the universities College of Engineering, KGU Solar donated 'Unit 2', a solar car otherwise known as 'Practice', the same car used in their inaugural BWSC race in 2013, for the students to gain practical, hands-on experience with solar and automotive technologies.

Supported by EKO

EKO Instruments first sponsored KGU Solar ahead of the BWSC in 2019, supplying a set of two pyranometers. Since then, and with the official launch of EMPOWER in 2021, the partnership has only deepened, leading to the recent announcement of the 'EKO | EMPOWER Future Online Education Programme', a joint project between Kogakuin University, KGU Solar, and EKO Instruments.

The EMPOWER Future programme is designed for students aged 12~17 and those at University. It will feature EKO engineers delivering online courses across a range of renewable energy and solar energy topics. Supporting the work of Professor Hamane and KGU Solar volunteers activities, the programme aims to inspire the next generation of scientists, students and engineers by promoting awareness of solar energy technologies and STEM subjects.

And with solar car racing set to make a return, EKO has also supplied KGU Solar with new sensors to aid the design and development of their new car ahead of WSC 2021 in Japan later this year and the next BWSC in 2023.

No less ambitious than before the pandemic, the "nerds" of KGU Solar have the self-belief, passion, and talent to show the world just how far the 'crazy' team can go.

Professor Hamane Hirota, Founder, KGU Solar


We started with a small team of only eight people… a group of students who had never seen or touched a solar car and did not know what to do. To help us focus, we started by defining our philosophy, vision, and mission… to utilise the latest technologies to help shape the next century, increase access to science and technology education, and win races… everything we do is governed by a strict rule against copying. We strive to be original, to choose innovative over easy, and to push beyond the limit of what is possible. I think that's why we have become known around the world as the' crazy' team.


It's said that there is a revolution in the automotive industry once every 100-years. Already we can see the shape of the future, with electric cars growing in popularity as the costs of manufacture and ownership decline, but there's so much more that could be done. As a team, we believe that we have a responsibility to contribute; by developing solutions and solar car technologies that can benefit the world. That's why we've been working with younger students, raising awareness, supporting them through events and science classes. This work will help us, and them, to achieve a new, sustainable, automotive future.


For solar cars, environmental monitoring is essential. The best teams hardly ever make a mistake during a race… the real difference between teams can be found in design and quality. This is why we put all our effort and energy into preparing the vehicle, right up until the very last minute before the race begins. EKO's monitoring and sensor technologies are supporting the development of new designs and ideas based on the natural world, helping us to stay different and ahead of the competition.


EKO | EMPOWER Future Online Education Programme 1/3 (JP)


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