|Bill Gibson Chairman, Zytek Automotive; Lord Drayson , Science and Innovation Minister; and Gordon Murray, Chief Executive and Technical Director, Gordon Murray Design. Click to enlarge.|
The UK-backed Technology Strategy Board is investing £4.5 million (US$$7.5 million) in a new £9-million research and development project that will allow a consortium to develop four prototypes of a new all-electric city car that can be more sustainably manufactured.
Consortium partners for the electric T.27 project are Gordon Murray Design as the lead organization and Zytek Automotive Limited. Technical support will be provided by Michelin Plc and Continental Corporation and sub-contractors will include MIRA Limited, Vocis Driveline Controls, VCA UK, and ENAX.
The T.27 project will produce four running prototypes of a 3-seater all-electric vehicle achievable of 4-star Euro NCAP rating and excellent pedestrian safety. This target cannot be achieved by applying a conventional stamped steel construction design, nor with a drivetrain using existing gearboxes, motors or batteries, the partners said.
By applying iStream methodology—a new manufacturing process developed by Gordon Murray Design—to the T.27, and fully integrating it with a custom-designed lightweight, highly efficient drivetrain from Zytek and partners, every aspect of the vehicle can be optimized.
This holistic approach results in a car slightly smaller than a Smart, but with more interior space. A similar approach was used by Gordon Murray Design for the 3-seat gasoline-fueled T.25.
High-level life cycle analysis derived from T.25 data predicts T.27 life-cycle emissions of 63% less than the average car and 27% less than similar EVs—partly due to the iStream manufacturing approach.
The iStream manufacturing process behind the T.25 and T.27 is all about sustainable, low energy process by design. The T.27 programme is a great opportunity for us and our partners to create what will be the world’s most efficient electric vehicle. An opportunity to start from a clean sheet of paper combined with our disruptive manufacturing technology will result in a product which truly pushes the boundaries of urban vehicle design and further protecting our mobility.
—Gordon Murray, Chief Executive and Technical Director of Gordon Murray Design
The aim of the 16 month project is to develop prototypes that will put the consortium in the position where they can further explore the possibility of scaling up and building a manufacturing facility, with the ultimate goal of making this affordable, fun and environmentally-friendly car widely available on the open market.
The iStream assembly process represents a complete rethink and redesign of the traditional manufacturing process. Development of the process began more than 15 years ago. The simplified assembly process means that the manufacturing plant can be designed to be 20% of the size of a conventional factory. This could reduce capital investment in the assembly plant by approximately 80%. The flexibility of this assembly process means that the same factory could be used to manufacture different variants.
Gordon Murray Design Limited is a new British company operating from Shalford in Surrey. Zytek Automotive Technology is a British engineering company with a reputation for success, pursued both on and off the track.