These are the first pictures of the radical new T25 city car from legendary McLaren F1 designer Gordon Murray.
The gift-wrapped full-sized model was unveiled last night at an event to mark the first anniversary of Gordon Murray Design, the Surrey-based outfit creating the car.
'This is the biggest revolution in motoring since the Model T,' says Murray. 'It is a complete rethink of the way we make and use cars.'
Until now the T25 project has been shrouded in extreme secrecy. Murray won’t manufacture the car himself but plans to licence the design to a large company able to put it into production around the world by 2012 at the latest. Keeping it secret is therefore a top priority.
But some details have now started to emerge. In four-seat MPV form the T25 will be just 2.4m long and 1.3m wide, including cleverly integrated wing mirrors. It will weigh just 550kg and is designed around a 51bhp 3-cylinder petrol engine, giving 93bhp per tonne, as much as a conventional 2.0-litre saloon and with equivalent performance.
It will return 81mpg and emit just 78g/km of CO2. Its flexible design means the T25 will also accept alternatives powertrains such as fuel cells. Its lifetime CO2 emissions will be 40 percent less than an average car and emit one tonne less CO2 each year.
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The T25 will go on sale at around £5500 but Murray claims that its fuel- and tax-efficiency mean it will pay for itself in four years. The T25 already qualifies for most current green-car tax breaks but Murray’s team includes a full-time lobbyist arguing for further concessions for this car.
There will be four body styles and six cabin layouts. The T25 will have a separate body and chassis. Heavy, expensive steel will be used only where it is needed for torsion, bending and crash protection. The exterior panels are likely to be made of upcycled plastic and will be easily replaceable after an accident. Crash protection is claimed to match that of an average car and the T25 has gone through over 80 simulated crash tests at the independent MIRA safety centre.
The T25 is so small that two can run side-by-side in a motorway lane, and three can park nose-out in a standard parking bay (see the pictures, right).
Murray will build the first running prototypes early next year. His team is already engaged in detailed component design work and he claims to have hit or bettered all the ambitious targets he set for his city car. He is in talks with three major companies to licence the T25 design, but only one is an established car maker. The package they are being offered includes the manufacturing process and the design of the factories, which will build up to 100,000 T25s each and occupy a fifth of the space of a conventional factory. This could allow a major, non-automotive brand to enter and shake up the car market.
‘This has been my toughest challenge so far,' says Murray. 'It is far, far more difficult than designing a Formula One car. It will be a whole new beginning, but it will also be funky, iconic and fun to drive.'
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