Mean, green machine

The UK developer of an exciting new sports car believes that its
creation could redefine the way consumers think about hybrid cars.

The UK developer of an exciting new sports car believes that itscreation could redefine the way consumers think about hybrid cars.

Previewed at this month’s Goodwood Revival meeting, the Connaught Type-D will be a sporty coupé with a difference – capable of 140mph and 0-60mph in 6.2 seconds, and reaping the benefits of what is claimed to be the first such use of a V10 hybrid engine.

One of the brains behind the project, Connaught’s engineering director Tim Bishop, told The Engineer that the car is designed to fill a gap in the marketplace for a highly fuel-efficient car with no stigma attached. ‘There’s a desperate need for fuel efficiency without other detractions,’ said Bishop, formerly with Jaguar.

‘The public thinks that everything that’s fuel efficient has to be a shed on wheels; the moment you mention hybrid you get all this really negative stuff like “where do you plug it in at night? and where do you keep the spare batteries?”‘ he added.

The Type-D, currently under development at Connaught’s Daventry headquarters, will be anything but a shed on wheels. Designed in-house, the engine is claimed to enable the car to pull away under electrical power, while using all the available engine power in full performance mode. The 2.1-litre device with 140bhp is boosted by a 12bhp electric motor, enabling it to achieve 42mpg and comply with 2010 emissions targets.

V10 engines are traditionally an unpopular choice for road cars. This is because designers don’t want long engines – particularly as most engines are transverse. But these very factors made it ideal for this application. ‘We want a long thin engine because it sits down the middle of the car and allows us to use the entire front end to meet Euro NCAP regulations,’ said Bishop.

He added that the narrow profile has enabled the designers to ‘do adventurous things’ with the inlet manifold design, further boosting the engine’s torque curve.

While the design work is being done by Connaught, manufacturing will be outsourced to Derby-based partner EPM Technology.

So far, claimed Bishop, almost every part of the vehicle has been successfully designed and simulated. Some components, such as the chassis, already exist in physical prototype form, while others have been intensively designed and simulated using engineering software.

He’s confident that the car will gain a five-star Euro NCAP rating, as well as comply with ultra-low emissions targets set for 2010. Indeed, the project has already received almost £500,000 worth of funding from the government’s Energy Saving Trust.

Connaught now faces the considerable challenge of raising a further £5m, but Bishop is confident that the remaining funding will be found.

The company expects to be able to demonstrate a prototype next January, with the finished £35,000 product following in the middle of 2006.