A consortium to bring Gordon Murray’s T27 electric city car to production has begun forming in the UK — and by the end of this year it could be ready to start building the super-efficient iStream manufacturing plant that will produce them.
The T27, so closely related in size and design to Murray’s petrol-powered T25 that both electric and internal combustion models could be produced in the same factory, eliminates conventional steel pressings from its ultra-safe chassis structure, reducing manufacturing time, space and investment.
The T27 project is the first fruit of a £4.5 million grant from the government-backed Technology Strategy Board.
Murray’s partner in the T27 is Lichfield technology firm Zytec, which has received a matching £4.5m grant and is designing and manufacturing an ultra-compact motor and gearbox to go under the three-seat T27’s boot floor.
It has announced plans for a ‘turn-key package’ that is up to 45 per cent lighter than regular units in its air-cooled specification.
Murray believes the T27 will be one of the first ‘proper’ electric cars to demonstrate the value of purpose design. “The last thing you want for an efficient electric car is conventional construction or a sports car character,” he said.
“Weight or the need for lots of acceleration means your battery has to be too heavy. We can keep the T27’s weight under 700kg, which will make it one of the world’s lightest electric cars.”
The iStream manufacturing process, also designed by Murray, is essential to T25 and T27 production because its efficiency, investment and space savings will allow cars to be sold for much less than existing or proposed city cars.
Although he’s enthusiastic about the T27’s sales prospects, Murray believes initial figures may be patchy.
"Our research shows predictions of early demand varying by as much as 80 per cent,” he said. “It may prove sensible to make both the T25 and T27 in the first plant — they have been engineered to co-exist — to protect the health of both.”
The petrol-powered T25, now fully engineered, will take just 22 months to reach showrooms. It will deliver a genuine 80mpg and emit less than 100g/km of CO2 but will have “lively performance”.
Murray recently revealed that in June 2008, a few weeks before the global recession struck, a “huge UK group” agreed to buy the T25 design and build both passenger and van versions in the first iStream factory. When markets collapsed they backed out, but they have retained interest in the project.