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Brits aim to build world’s greenest EV

Formula electric: Former Formula One designer Gordon Murray has turned his focus on an electric vehicle, the T27.

Murray T27 project sets out to build an EV with world’s smallest CO2 footprint

31 May 2010

RENOWNED Formula One racing car and McLaren supercar designer, and now automotive entrepreneur, Gordon Murray is developing an all-electric three-seater city car that could become the world’s greenest electric vehicle.

Dubbed the T27, the British-developed EV is a £9 million ($A15.4m) enterprise underway between Gordon Murray Design, engineering firm Zytek Automotive and other consortium partners – and is on schedule to reach prototype stage by April next year.

The EV will be based heavily on the conventional petrol-powered T25 ultra-compact MPV also in development at Gordon Murray Design headquarters in Surrey, England.

The T25 is designed around a central driving position and offers six internal layouts, each achieved within 30 seconds. In driver-only configuration, the car offers 750 litres of storage space.

For the electric T27, which like the T25 is still to be revealed, Professor Murray and his team last week issued specification and performance targets that support the claim it will be the world’s most efficient EV, thanks to its low weight, ‘clean sheet’ design and so-called ‘iStream’ flexible manufacturing process that can eliminate high tooling costs and reduce the required assembly plant size by 80 per cent.

The latter will dramatically reduce CO2 emissions over the lifecycle of the vehicles produced using the iStream process, with Murray Design claiming that “full lifecycle CO2 damage” with the T27 will be 42 per cent less than the average UK car.

 center image Left: Zytek 25kW powertrain. Below: Zytek 25kW motor and transmission.

The T27’s CO2 footprint, which includes emissions from power stations that provide its electric power, are just 48g/km on the combined cycle, reducing to just 28g/km for the urban cycle (where conventional-engine emissions tend to increase) – with zero emissions at the point of use.

Murray Design claims the T27 will set “new standards in environmental sustainability”. In addition to the figures quoted above, the vehicle is also expected to produce 27 per cent fewer lifecycle emissions than its nearest EV rival – due partly to the iStream approach.

The T27’s target kerb weight is 680kg (including the battery), and the vehicle measures 2500mm long, 1300mm wide and 1600mm high, with a 1780mm wheelbase and 6.0m turning circle.

The Zytek-developed drivetrain includes an ultra-lightweight 25kW permanent magnet synchronous electric motor, single-speed gearbox and 12kWh lithium-ion battery.

According to Zytek, the modular “turn-key” package is compact and, in an air-cooled configuration, is up to 45 per cent lighter than current production EV powertrains. It has also developed a water-cooled version for other applications, which it claims is up to 30 per cent lighter.

With the T27, Murray Design quotes a top speed of 105km/h, 0-100km/h acceleration of “less than 15 seconds” and a driving range of up to 160km.

Specifications for the petrol T25 are still to be released, but Murray Design has said it will deliver 80mpg (3.5L/100km) and emit less than 100g/km of CO2. It will also reportedly offer “lively performance”.

The T27 program is supported by the British government’s Technology Strategy Board (TSB), which has invested £4.5 million. A matching £4.5m grant has also been made to Zytek.

A partner or consortium to bankroll and produce the T25 and T27 models in the UK is now being sought, with estimates of up to 6000 jobs to be created if the program gets the green light.

“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,” Professor Murray said.

“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.”

TSB chief executive Iain Gray said: "This is another example of the UK positioning itself to benefit from the economic opportunities offered by the emerging low-carbon vehicles market.

“It’s great that the T27, a fantastic example of smart engineering and sustainable design, is at the forefront of this.”

Zytek Automotive chairman Bill Gibson added: “Zytek’s new innovative powertrain, developed from our substantial experience of EV and hybrid vehicle production programs, will substantially reduce the weight and cost of the electric engine, whilst delivering the quality, refinement and driving experience that T27 customers will demand.”

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