Gordon Murray: My T.27 is the World's Most Efficient EV

In any discussions about who has the sharpest, alien-brain mind in the history of automotive design, Gordon Murray‘s name is bound to get dropped.  Murray designed a number of innovative Formula 1 cars over a career spanning more than two decades – one among the many was the infamous Brabham Fan Car, which was so utterly dominant in its debut race that the sport’s sanctioning body banned it on the spot, fearing that the car would lead to escalation, spiraling costs, and disinterest among the sport’s fans.  Murray retired in the 1980’s, and designed – as any retired Gray alien/human half-breed might – the McLaren F1 road car, which won the 24 hours of LeMans overall and is still, nearly 20 years on, the meter against which all pretenders to the super-car throne are measured.

The guy knows how to draw a car, in other words.  So, when ol’ Murray stands up and announces that he’s designed “the world’s most efficient electric car” we should probably take a look, right?

Take a look, then, below.

Called the T.27 (because engineers are boring) the car’s design was made possible by a 4.5 million pound investment from the UK government’s Technology Strategy Board, and progressed from a sketch to a running prototype in a blistering-fast 17 months (the man knows fast).

That ultra-quick development time also saw the creation of a “completely new” 25 kW electric powertrain from Murray’s technology partners at Zytek Automotive (part of a consortium of companies eager to work on anything with Murray’s name on it).  Zytek’s motors will push the tiny T.27 to a top speed of nearly 70 mph for a range of up to 130 miles, all while setting a “new standard in weight, footprint, small car dynamics, safety, packaging and efficiency whilst addressing full life cycle CO2 emissions, congestion, parking and low cost motoring.”

Low cost?  Sure – that’s part of efficiency!  Initial cost projections put the T.25 (the prototype Murray displayed last year) put it at about 9000 UK pounds (about $14,000 USD), with a energy used per km efficiency that is – according to Murray’s PR – 36% better than Mitsubishi’s i EV, 86% better than Mini’s E, and 29% better than the electric Smart.  A lot can happen between the boardroom and the showroom, however, so expect that price and those numbers number to be “revised” by the time the tiny T.27 makes its official on-road debut at the RAC Future Car Challenge this November.

The T.27 specs are available in the diagram, above (click to enlarge), and I’ve included the full press release from Gordon Murray Design, below.

At an event held at the RAC, Pall Mall, London Gordon Murray Design has today unveiled their latest ultra compact city vehicle, T.27, the world’s most efficient electric car.

The design and development programme for T.27 is a £9 million project, made possible through a £4.5 million investment from the government-backed Technology Strategy Board.  From a clean sheet of paper to a running prototype the programme has taken just 17 months including the design and build of a completely new electric powertrain by Zytek Automotive Ltd, one of the Consortium partners.

T.27 specifically targets the urban city environment via a unique, holistic, manufacturing process (‘iStream®’) developed by Consortium lead partner Gordon Murray Design, it aims to significantly reduce lifecycle impacts and enable low cost, efficient manufacture within the UK. The electric car sets new standards in weight, footprint, small car dynamics, safety, packaging and efficiency whilst addressing full lifecycle CO2 emissions, congestion, parking and low cost motoring.

Gordon Murray Design’s patented iStream manufacturing technology has produced new levels of lightweight structure and safety in city cars.  The iFrame geometry in the T.27 has allowed every aspect of the vehicle to be optimised including Zytek Automotive’s integrated powertrain, another world first.

Unveiling the T.27, Professor Gordon Murray, CEO of Gordon Murray Design said:

“Lightweight is the most powerful tool we have in our armoury in the fight against emissions and fuel consumption.  This is true of all cars and especially so with electric vehicles! A lightweight car means a lightweight battery increasing the levels of safety and reducing the retail price dramatically.” The T.27 represents a huge step forward in protecting our mobility and our environment.

Gordon Murray Design recently achieved first class results in a second crash test on the vehicle – the EuroNCAP 50kph mobile deformable barrier (MDB) protocol, confirming the structural integrity of an iStream® manufactured chassis during a side impact.

The real world performance of T.27 closely correlated with simulation revealing virtually zero cabin intrusion during the dynamic phase of impacting.  The exemplary performance of T.27 in side impact presents a further milestone in vehicle safety development for the company.
In comparison to other electric cars the T.27 has much lower energy consumption per mile, the Smart EV uses 29% more energy per km, the Mitsubishi iMiEV uses 36% more energy per km, and the Mini-E uses 86% more energy per km, making the T.27 the most efficient electric car by some margin.

Iain Gray, Chief Executive of the Technology Strategy Board said:

“I must congratulate Gordon Murray Design and their partners for developing the T.27 prototype – and in rapid time.  The growing pressure for more environmentally friendly transport, from both customers and regulators, is creating new business opportunities in the fast-developing market for low carbon vehicles.  The Technology Strategy Board exists to help drive dynamic technological innovations such as the T.27, which are key to meeting our climate change goals.”

Gordon Murray Design is currently talking to three possible manufacturers for T.27.  The car will make its public road debut at the RAC Future Car Challenge on 5th November 2011.

Source: Gordon Murray Design.

Jo Borrás

I've been in the auto industry 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the IM network. You can also find me on Twitter, at my Volvo fansite, out on two wheels, or chasing my kids around Oak Park, IL.