Gordon Murray Design and Zytek Automotive announce an all-electric three-seater city car, made possible through a £4.5m investment from the government-backed Technology Strategy Board. With a total cost of £9m, the new research and development project will allow the consortium to develop four prototypes by February 2011.
Professor Gordon Murray, Chief Executive and Technical Director of Gordon Murray Design said of the announcement "As we head towards the new industrial revolution brought about by rising energy costs and concern over the effects of greenhouse 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. More often than not the UK has been responsible for innovative concepts and technologies only to have the end benefits seen abroad. In this case, we're all working together to keep the technology and the production in this country."
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; accepting no compromise in safety, performance, range, space, weight, rolling resistance and ride quality. 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, every aspect of the vehicle can be optimised. 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 a three-seater petrol-driven car (T.25) which is receiving significant market interest. The T.25 programme provides confidence that the aims of the T.27 programme are 100% achievable.
T.27 will also set new standards in environmental sustainability. High level lifecycle analysis derived from T.25 data predicts life-cycle emissions 63% less than the average car and for the T.27 lifecycle 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 presents a significant 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.
"This is an exciting project on several levels," says Zytek Automotive Sales and Marketing Director Steve Tremble. "As well as supporting the development of a new family of E-Drives, it will show what can be achieved when the vehicle design is optimised for zero emissions propulsion. It's a terrific initiative and we are delighted that the Technology Strategy Board has agreed to back it."
The 16 month project has several aims; to position the consortium positively 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 this country; keeping the new technology and IPR within the UK and making this affordable, fun and environmentally friendly car widely available on the open market. The project outcomes will help justify the required follow-on commercial investment to take the vehicle into manufacture by providing a body of evidence that the concept is a viable design for production.
Consortium partners for the T.27 project are Gordon Murray Design Limited as the lead organisation 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 iStream® assembly process is a complete rethink and redesign of the traditional manufacturing process and could potentially be the biggest revolution in high volume manufacture since the Model T. Development of the process began over 15 years ago and it has already won the prestigious 2008 ‘Idea of the Year' award from Autocar who were given privileged access in order to make their assessment. 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%. Yet the flexibility of this assembly process means that the same factory could be used to manufacture different variants. The iStream® design process is a complete re-think on high volume materials, as well as the manufacturing process and will lead to a significant reduction in CO2 emissions over the lifecycle of the vehicles produced using it, compared with conventional ones.
Gordon Murray Design Limited is a new British company operating from Shalford in Surrey. The company aims to be the world leader in automotive design and reverses the current industry trend for sub-contracting by having a complete in-house capability for design, prototyping and development. The company will remain compact and focused and will undertake automotive and other engineering programmes in an efficient and innovative way. For more information please visit www.gordonmurraydesign.com
Zytek Automotive Limited is a British engineering company with a reputation for success, pursued both on and off the track. Its substantial automotive engineering experience has been gained by providing major vehicle manufacturers with advanced powertrain and chassis control systems. This expertise led to the rapid growth of its engineering consultancy business, and most recently, to the design, development and manufacture of innovative Hybrid and Electric drivetrains. For more information please visit www.zytekgroup.co.uk
The Technology Strategy Board is a business-led executive non-departmental public body, established by the government. Its role is to promote and support research into, and development and exploitation of, technology and innovation for the benefit of UK business, in order to increase economic growth and improve the quality of life. It is sponsored by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). For more information please visit www.innovateuk.org