The Technical University of Moldova marks the end of this year with an innovative creation, as the only technical-engineering higher education institution in the country. One hundred percent electric offroader, with a unique name, bearing a suitable meaning – Hi-Duk (pronounced “Haiduc” – a freedom fighter in the Balkans).
Why “Hi-Duk”? The name signifies a present-day representation of the past, or a rebellion of the creators against the dated and settled ways of design and construction of vehicles. For instance, the old power supply system was replaced by eco-sources, thus creating the first electric car designed in Moldova, truly a pioneer in the true sense of the word! Designed based on the style of electric cars, the machine has two “hearts” – two compact electric motors, centrally managed by a controller. The creators have given up on the usual car color palettes – it was painted with a mixture of gray-bronze, consistent with its austere and compact design.
The vehicle manages to catch the eye unmistakably, even if it’s a service offroader. Thanks to the off-road tires, it carries itself brilliantly on our difficult roads, especially in rural areas, during heavy agricultural labor, but also in constructions, excavations and towing. It seems that flying is the only thing it has not yet learned, though it can be configured in any way imaginable. In the future, it could acquire a refrigerator, a van, or other various equipment. With engines that can deliver up to 82 horsepower, the Hi-Duk will be excellent at handling starting in vineyards or slopes. And thanks to the fact that the direction of the current can be easily changed, the motors can rotate in the opposite direction, and the car can go backwards. It’s also a great find for the essential public service in cities. By coupling some public road vacuum cleaners, it would contribute to the snow removal on access roads, sidewalks, parks, as well as street sweeping, sanitation operations, etc.
But how exactly did this masterpiece end up to be developed at UTM? Surely you remember the team of Moldovans, who turned Dacia Logan into an electric model? The same team, made up of the same two ingenious people, gained an enviable experience studying abroad. Oleg SARGU, originally from Străşeni, graduated from the Georgia Institute of Technology and worked in the USA for 12 years in the field of marine mechanics and logistics. And Maxim CONOPLIN graduated from Coventry University in Great Britain, being in the team of the former chief designer of Volvo Cars, Steve Harper. An arduous professional path, worthy of appreciation on any continent, but they still decided to return to their roots and continue their creative journey here, at home.
After returning to Chișinău, the two came up with this original project, for the realization of which they contacted the rector of UTM, Prof. Viorel BOSTAN, who, inspired by the enthusiasm of the duo, provided them with an entire mini-factory, operating under the auspices of UTM – FabLab, already recognized as one of the largest prototyping and production workshops in small-scale Eastern European, endowed with state-of-the-art computer-assisted equipment and machinery. Here, the two enthusiasts, already having the first sketches of their ideas and the necessary confidence built by years of experience, have ordered all required parts and materials, and started working on the Hi-Duk project. The two engines of the car are of British origin, coming from a company willing to license their production in Moldova in the future. The architecture of the vehicle is made of steel; the front part is made of fiberglass, the casting being made in China, with matrices that have already been created for a possible mass production. A good part of the components used by Hi-Duk are already certified and homologated in Europe, which should accelerate a future homologation of the vehicle. So is the lead-based battery, with 10-11 kWh usable from a capacity of 18 kWh. Lead technology is an older one, and opting for it was determined by its price at the start of the project. Meanwhile, lithium-ion batteries have become cheaper, so that the possible mass production will already be able to opt for lithium-ion batteries. Thus, in the future, the Hi-Duk could be certified as an ATV.
The constantly growing stacks of sketches, drawings, calculations and description files resulted in the realisation of the team’s great dream: a 3.32 meter long vehicle, with 2 seats, 2 engines, a huge capacity battery and a boundless field of creation for the future generations! By the way, the mountains of sketches and papers could serve as a valuable teaching material for students in machine building. In addition – the authors of the Hi-Duk are willing to make it available to those interested, as to be developed and capitalized on with the help of the creative minds of young people.
Photo: Dorina Pantaz