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Former F1 engineer unveils new city car

  • McLaren F1 supercar designer unveils his new eco car, the T.25
  • Design includes features for driving and manufacturing efficiency
  • "iStream" manufacturing process greatly reduces environmental impact, designer says

London, England (CNN) -- His most famous car has a top speed of 240 miles per hour.

With a top speed of 80 mph, Gordon Murray's latest design isn't likely to trouble too many speed cameras, but it shouldn't worry environmentalists either.

The former Formula One engineer who created the iconic McLaren F1 supercar has officially unveiled the T.25 -- his idea for a new class of city car.

Murray and his team based in Shalford, south east England, have been working on the design for the past three years and, until now, have kept the exact details of the car firmly under wraps.

The car made its first public appearance on Monday at the UK's Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment in Oxford.

At less than eight feet long and a little over four feet wide, the T.25 is smaller than Daimler AG's popular Smart car, and a petrol engine model will retail for around $9,000.

The price tag isn't exactly Formula One, but the technology and thinking employed to create the T.25 certainly is.

The centralized driving position -- also a feature of Murray's McLaren F1 -- and central instrumentation and controls are perhaps its most obvious traits borrowed from Formula One.

Others might not be so easy to spot, but they are no less important to the overall design.

The T.25 is light, weighing in at just 550 kilograms, helping it achieve a fuel efficiency of around 74 miles per gallon.

A chassis design based on "Formula One derived materials, philosophy and technology" provides an "immensely strong structure," says Murray and body panels are also easier to replace in the event of damage.

A flat under-floor design also improves overall aerodynamics.

One thing the car most definitely does not share with an F1 car is its turning circle, which at six-meters -- a Smart car's is nearly nine meters, a BMW Mini's over ten -- makes it highly maneuverable in an urban setting.

Inside, the modular interior allowing for six different configurations, which can be easily adjusted to accommodate passengers or used as storage space.

You'll find it hard to lose a wing mirror as they both sit within the overall width of the car and fuel caps are situated on either side of the car.

The T.25's also has an electric cousin, the T.27, which Murray says will have a range of 80-100 miles and cost around $18,000.

Gordon Murray Design has also developed a new manufacturing concept especially for the T.25.

"iStream" is "a complete rethink and redesign of the traditional manufacturing process," he says, which simplifies the auto assembly line by allowing all major components to be fitted directly on to the chassis prior to the body panels, which are also pre-painted.

The streamlining of the process could mean smaller, more efficient auto plants which reduce the overall carbon footprint of the car.

Holger Erker, managing director of the German engineering consultancy, IPE Engineering, was asked to provide independent analysis and verify the principles set out by Murray's "iStream" concept.

He's convinced of its benefits.

"It is the most radical change in, let's say, the last 100 years of car body making. With "iStream" one of the most cost intensive production steps -- body panel press shop -- is completely eliminated," Erker told CNN.

Erker, who has worked as an auto industry consultant for two decades, believes Murray's manufacturing concept provides more flexibility than any other current car manufacturing process.

"Flexibility is what all of the OEM's (original equipment manufacturers) are trying to bring to their current car plants. "iStream" is already there," Erker said.


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