A drive for efficiency

Gordon Murray Design and Zytek Automotive Technology have embarked on a 16-month project to develop what they claim will be the world’s most efficient electric passenger car.

The Technology Strategy Board has invested £4.5m into the £9m project. Technical support will be provided by Michelin and Continental Corporation.

Dubbed the T.27, the three-seat EV is expected to weigh 700kg, have a power output of between 25 and 30kw and be able travel 150 miles before recharging.

‘The first question you’re asked about EVs [electric vehicles] is “what’s the range?”,’ said Bill Gibson, chairman of Zytek. ‘Often this is the first question because people want to discard the idea of an EV.

‘As we’ve seen with the Smart EV, there is sufficient interest in a car that can do 65 miles. However, you can’t base a mass-volume business on it. If we can get up to 150 miles then that situation will exist.

‘Improvements in efficiencies will help us extend the range and get EV into an area where people will accept it and not consider the question of range.’

The T.27’s efficiency gains are expected to be derived from the Zytek’s custom-designed drivetrain and Gordon Murray Design’s iStream manufacturing process, which centres on a separate body chassis assembly process.

A similar approach was used by Gordon Murray Design for the T.25 three-seater petrol-driven proof-of-concept car.

High-level lifecycle analysis derived from T.25 data predicts lifecycle emissions 63 per cent less than the average car and for the T.27 lifecycle emissions 27 per cent less than similar EVs.

Speaking at the launch of the T.27 funding, Lord Drayson, science minister, stressed the need for the UK to be at the forefront of developing, testing and manufacturing low-carbon vehicles.

‘The T.27 is a great example of smart engineering and sustainable design,’ he said. ‘It’s timely too, as the UK must demonstrate its readiness to exploit the emerging low-carbon vehicles market. The challenge is far greater than simply meeting stricter EU emissions targets. We need to expand our car industry through green innovation.’

The consortium expects to have four prototype EVs ready by 2011 that are capable of achieving a four-star Euro NCAP rating. They will then explore scaling up a manufacturing facility in the UK.