For the last month, Bilal Ahmed, a mathematics teacher from Srinagar, has been so busy that he hasn't had the time to even eat his meals on time. His phone keeps on ringing as journalists line up outside his residence to get a glimpse of his innovation that has earned him the title of "Elon Musk of Kashmir".
Ahmed became an overnight sensation in Kashmir after he built a car that runs on solar energy.
The mathematics teacher, who teaches at a coaching centre in Srinagar, built the car over a period of 11 years learning the process by watching YouTube videos.
While his day job involves teaching IIT-JEE students maths to become future doctors and engineers, Ahmed decided that he wants to build a car that can be affordable.
"It was in 2009 that I came across an article that said petrol prices will increase exponentially. That's when I decided that I want to build a car that will be free of petrol," he told DECODE in an interview.
A month ago when he finally took his car out on a test drive, the crowds gathered — almost everyone wanted a selfie with him. And then he was nicknamed "Elon Musk".
WATCH the interview with Ahmed:
Just days after the launch, Ahmed became an internet sensation after his work was noticed and appreciated by the tech giants including Anand Mahindra.
Bilal's passion is commendable. I applaud his single-handedly developing this prototype. Clearly the design needs to evolve into a production-friendly version. Perhaps our team at Mahindra Research Valley can work alongside him to develop it further. @Velu_Mahindra ? https://t.co/p6WRgQmcXo— anand mahindra (@anandmahindra) July 20, 2022
Former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Omar Abdullah also tweeted about Ahmed's achievement saying, "It seems the car could one day also fly. The car has solar panels on the body and a charging point inside".
Ahmed had a wish: To manufacture a luxurious but affordable car. So he started reading and learning about cars from across the world that came into existence in the 50s. He was inspired by the work of an engineer and innovator from Detroit in the US who owned the automobile company DMC.
In 2009, the self-taught innovator embarked on a project to create a solar-run luxury car and completed the project this year.
Ahmed's car has features that are comparable with other luxury cars. The car solely runs on the electrical energy which is generated by the monocrystalline solar panels. He used this specific type of solar panel because they generate maximum electricity even when it is exposed to the least solar energy. The car's panels, he explained, are efficient and occupy a low surface area.
The car is fully automatic and has gullwing doors to take care of the space constraints.
"No one provided me with any financial assistance,'' he said. "If I had got the necessary support, perhaps I would have become the Elon Musk of India."