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Thursday, November 5, 2009

F1 designer Gordon Murray announces electric city car

Gordon Murray, the man who designed the McLaren F1, and Zytek Automotive today
announced an all-electric 3-seater city car, made possible through a $7.48 Million investment from the UK-backed Technology Strategy Board. With a total cost of $14.9 Million, a new research and development project will allow the consortium to develop four prototypes by February 2011.

The 16-month project has several goals: to further explore the possibility of scaling up and building a manufacturing facility in the UK, with the ultimate goal of producing the T.27 in Britain; to keep the new technology and intellectual property rights within the UK; and to make this affordable, fun and environmentally friendly car available for purchase.

Professor Gordon Murray, Chief Executive and Technical Director of Gordon Murray Design said, "As we head towards the new industrial revolution brought about by rising energy costs and concern over the effects of green house gases, we at Gordon Murray Design feel proud to be working with the Technology Strategy Board in helping the UK play a leading role in tackling the issues we all face."

The T.27 will be the world's most efficient electric car due to its low weight and 'clean sheet of paper design'. This ambitious target cannot be achieved by applying a conventional stamped steel construction design, nor with a drivetrain using existing gearboxes, motors or batteries. Instead, an entirely fresh approach is proposed that accepts no compromise in safety, performance, range, space, weight, rolling resistance and ride quality. By applying iStream® methodology to the T.27, a new manufacturing process developed by Gordon Murray Design, and fully integrating it with a custom-designed lightweight, highly efficient drivetrain from Zytek, 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.

Murray added, "The iStream® manufacturing process behind the T.25 and T.27 is all about sustainable, low energy process by design. The T.27 program 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."

A similar approach was used by Gordon Murray Design for a 3-seater gasoline-powered car (T.25) which is receiving significant market interest. The T.25 program provides confidence that the T.27 aims are 100% achievable. T.27 will also set new standards in environmental sustainability. High level life cycle analysis derived from T.25 data predicts life-cycle emissions 63% less than the average car and, for the T.27 life-cycle, emissions 27% less than the nearest EV rival, which is partly due to the iStream® manufacturing approach. Rival compact city car EVs do not simultaneously address all of the factors noted above and so this combination of attributes addresses a substantial market opportunity.

Zytek has designed and integrated electric drive systems for a wide range of European and US vehicle manufacturers and is currently building high performance electric drivetrains up to 70kW and 300Nm for cars, buses and light commercial vehicles. The T.27 focuses on 'efficient performance' with all aspects of the drivetrain designed to maximise efficiency and minimise
weight. The motor, power electronics and gearbox will form a single, highly integrated unit designed specifically for the performance requirements of the T.27, but offering scalability to heavier vehicles as required.

The T.27 is a sustainable vehicle, which means that it has been designed in a way that minimizes the use of materials and keeps the embedded carbon that is present throughout the life cycle of the vehicle as low as possible. The goal is to ensure that the environmental impact of the materials and energy that are used are as low as can be. The iStream production process is also highly efficient and flexible to minimize the cost of production.

"Gordon has succeeded in building a consortium that shares his commitment to transforming how we design, source, engineer, manufacture and bring to market new automobiles," said Gordon Murray Design board member and MDV General Partner Jonathan Feiber. "This program is innovative in every sense of the word. It marks a turning point in what's possible for city cars."

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