Gordon Murray: T.25 City Car


Gordon Murray plans to revolutionise the automotive world with his small car platform, the T.25, yet to be unveiled. Presently the only images are of something wrapped in what looks like kitchen foil and string. Many might recall from years ago the hype surrounding Dean Kamen and his “revolutionary” transportation solution, which turned out to be the rather disappointing Segway. I don’t believe Dean was at the epicentre of the hype. Perhaps his only sin was to be a little over-enthusiastic about his left-field invention, enough to pique the interest of the media, who then ran with speculative stories bordering on the absurd. I’m sure I read something about zero point energy at one stage.

We are all natural skeptics when it comes to claims of revolutionary change in one field or another. Indeed, has Gordon or anyone from his design consultancy ever used the ‘r’ word?. Yep. “This is the biggest revolution in motoring since the Model T,’ says Murray. Calling the T.25 “A new British Icon for the 21st Century” only on adds to the hyperbole.

Petrolheads like me won’t forget this is the man that gifted us the ultimate supercar during the 90s, the McLaren F1. To this day, it’s still considered the benchmark, a money-is-no-object design and engineering exercise that only comes along every 30 or so years.

Alas with Murray’s pedigree in mind it’s hard not to be interested in what is lurking underneath that foil. We know it’s a super compact platform, which I must admit already diminishes it in my view. I don’t think being green necessarily means we will be forced to drive impractical Noddy cars. Nor do I want to parade myself, my wife and friends around in a ridiculously upright manner, peering out from behind the glass like clothed meerkats.

Then there are the legitimate safety concerns around super compact vehicles: I’m still not convinced that he’ll manage to make the T.25 as safe as a conventional small car.

However, I do understand what Murray is attempting to achieve. He’s not just focusing on the car it’self; he’s performed a review of the entire lifecycle of the car, and proposed changes throughout the production process. The car’s proportions are a reflection of the increasingly crowded roads we drive on, and I’m sure markets in China and India crossed his mind at some point.

The T.25 will be a 4-seat MPV, 2.4m long and 1.3 m wide. Target weight is 550kg, and the powerplant is a 51bhp, 3 cylinder petrol engine, giving the car 93 bhp per tonne. Most importantly, it’s lifetime CO2 emissions will be 40 percent less than an average car and emit one tonne less CO2 each year.

There will be the option of alternative powerplants, including zero-emissions options later on. I’d say this car is an ideal candidate for electric wheel motors, which woul align perfectly with the design mantra of fewer parts and less complexity. Last year I was in contact with a company in Australia called HybridAuto that would have been a possible supplier, though I’ve seen no signs of life there for a while.

In the UK there is another in-wheel motor manufacturer  whose core offering is a system called Hi-Pa Drive.  It has already been demonstrated in working concepts like the Volvo ReCharge. Such a system would be ideal for the T.25.

Murray doesn’t plan to manufacture the car himself. Instead he hopes to license the car out to a large company, with the T.25 hitting the streets some time after 2010. We can only wait to see if the hype matches the reality if a T.25 based variant does go on sale.

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