Smaller Than Smart Car, Coming in 2011
A British design house has unveiled a minicar that is about one-third smaller than the diminutive Daimler Smart ForTwo. This week, the Gordon Murray Design T.25 was unveiled—well, at least the equivalent of a napkin sketch of the car was. Hybridcars.com was told that the details were deliberately thin—lacking actual dimensions, powertrain information or seating/door locations—but the company presenting the concept has the credentials to deliver the product. That product’s goal is to deliver up to 75 mile-per-gallon fuel economy along with the capability of obtaining 80 miles per hour on a freeway. Of course the lack of details didn’t stop some media from speculating about the car’s specifications.
Gordon Murray Design’s plan is to deliver a prototype of this mini-minicar that could then be produced by a major automaker. Gordon Murray Design has a track record of producing high-end racecars and limited edition street machines, but this latest venture takes them into the realm of Smarts, Mini Coopers and Tata Nanos. The company has been working on the car’s design for the past year and promises a running prototype that will meet worldwide safety and emissions standards in 2009.
Plans from Gordon Murray Design are being shopped around to auto companies in hopes of finding a company willing to license and build the car—according Mohr Davidow Ventures, the Silicon Valley venture capital company providing the key financial backing. They estimate that the initial car—and other variations in the works—could be in production as early as 2011 or 12.
Gordon Murray Design also has plans for a manufacturing facility that would have one-fifth the footprint of its current one, yet produce the same number of vehicles. It would not have a stamping plant, traditionally a large portion of a car plant, since the T.25 does not have stamped steel body panels. The company’s focus on cradle-to-grave environmental impact led them to rethink the entire manufacturing process incorporating concepts such as multi-functional component design and vehicle body and chassis that can be re-used at the end of the vehicle’s life.
The car will offer a measure of fun, along with a low environmental footprint. Weighing 440 pounds less than a Smart ForTwo, the T.25 will have a better power-to-weight ratio than even a typical luxury sedan. It will be able to travel two-abreast in a single lane and park head-in three to the traditional single parking space. Initial markets for the car, which the company hopes to see priced at around $10,800 retail, are expected to be Europe and Asia. One report said that the dimensions of the U.S. version of the car would be somewhat larger than the size indicated in the initial sketch in order to meet safety specifications.