In December 2001, I wrote a newspaper article about a mysterious invention by Dean Kamen that was about to be revealed the next day. The hype was intense and articles in anticipation of Kamen's announcement made front page news all over the world. The news all focused on the same thing: his device was going to change the world or so reporters were told by the few who had seen the invention.
Fast forward a few years and the Segway hasn't changed the world. In fact, it's likely that the Segway will be little more than a footnote when we look back one day at the evolution of vehicles. So anything that promises to be a revolutionary new kind of car deserves some skepticism. Still, Gordon Murray is known in driving circles for having had extraordinary success. He's the guy behind the McLaren F1 and he has now designed a new type of car that is decidedly different than his super sports car.
The T25 is a tightly-guarded secret, but what has been publicly known is that the four-seater will be smaller than a Mini and has a capability of 80 mpg. It will not be a hybrid nor use an electric motor.
In an exclusive interview with the Daily Mail, Murray has given more hints about what the T25â€”so named because it's Murray's 25th car design--could look like and why he thinks it will be a success. For starters, Professor Murray is using regular fuel and every day materials to make his car. He won't be relying on hybrids or biofuels.
Murray thinks the problems with today's vehicles are simple and these problems can easily be reconstructed to make cars more efficient. Modern cars are too heavy and that's why they use up too much fuel. Car companies that insist their models need to be big and heavy in order to satisfy safety concerns and comfort are just guilty of what Murray considers lazy engineering.
â€œCar design is driven entirely by styling and marketing. If the marketing people say we need more legroom, instead of being clever, they just make the car longer.â€
Most of today's cars weigh at least a ton and Murray's T25 will be half that weight. It will be capable of being carried by four strong people but will have lost none of the safety standards in regular vehicles, according to him. Shaving the weight will also lighten the cost. The T25 will cost an estimated $8,000 USD.
Some of the other features Murray told the Daily Mail are that two of the T25s can travel side-by-side on a single lane and three could fit in a standard parking space. It will be about the size of the Smart Car, less than eight feet long, and cost one-fifth of what other car costs to manufacture.
The body will be made from plastic, reinforced with fibre and produced from recycled materials that can be bolted together and taken apart like slices in a loaf of bread.
A small factory with a handful of workers is all it takes to produce the car, which will have a gasoline or diesel engine but be capable of being modified with an electric engine. Over the T25's lifetime, it will emit one less ton of carbon dioxide each year.
Murray is operating on the premise that lighter means greener. Shaving just 10 per cent off the weight of every car in the UK could result in more emission reductions, he believes, than adopting hybrid and fuel cell technologies, which he dismisses as a â€œwaste of spaceâ€ and â€œtoo complicated.â€
Murray isn't keen on hybrids like the Toyota Prius. â€œWho wants to be sitting on top of a high-amperage battery in a crash?â€
So how did he do it? The key, he hinted at, is in the seating plan. â€œIt all depends on how you sit.â€ That clue is particularly intriguing given this is the man who designed a three-seater sports car with the driver in the front and passengers behind and to the sides. I'm putting myself on the line right now by predicting that the T25 will be diamond-shaped with the fourth passenger in the back.
The car is set to be unveiled within a year, and UK drivers might be driving around in them in time for the London Olympics in 2012.
Via Daily Mail and Car Magazine
written by Twist9, January 05, 2009
written by Carol, January 16, 2009
written by Kyle White, January 18, 2009
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